Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon


I’ve jumped all over WordPress’s Weekly and Daily Challenges.  I’m thrilled about it, because I feel like my writing improves when I’m given topics and told to write.  I was stretched big time this past summer as a photo blogger, and so I’d like to share one of my pictures from this summer — The topic this week is ‘Horizon.’  So here’s a horizon that I wish everyone could experience, and that I wish I could take with me everywhere I go, all the time.  I guess I carry it in my heart?  How very artsy of me.

 

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Isn’t it stunning?  I count myself a very lucky lady that this is where I get to spend my entire July and August.

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On Giving Advice


I was reading through Blogs tonight – something I haven’t had a ton of time to do in the last few days, so I had 22 new post notification emails to sift through when I got home tonight. One of them referenced Word Press’s Weekly Writing Challenge, which I’d stumbled upon in August, bookmarked, and promptly forgotten. This week’s is on advice. Mrs. Roberson over at Finding Neverland, in keeping with this week’s theme, wrote some advice on How to Make a Good First Impression on a Room Full of Teenagers.

I’ve decided to summarize both the best and worst pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

I’ve struggled with being single off and on for a while now. Sometimes I’m completely content being single (where I’m sitting right now, mere days after a wretched date – see the story about George* here – this is especially true). You see, I’ve had expectations of where I’d be by now many times, and every time I was disappointed because reality didn’t match my expectations, I’d go through a bit of a discouraged stint and wallow – until I reset the goal time for “getting married” back a little bit, and convinced myself I was regrouping and refocusing. I’ve realized now that the ‘when’ is irrelevant.

The best advice I’ve received to this in my life has come from people whose opinions and advice I truly value. They also happen to be people either in crappy marriages or those who escaped them. I mean, it sounds cliché… “it’s better to be single and happy than stuck in a bad relationship and miserable.” It sounds like the easiest answer to give anyone who suggests they’re lonely because they can’t find a ‘special friend,’ as my Grandmother loves to call them. But it’s the best piece of advice anyone could ever have given me. The first time I heard it, I’m pretty sure I shrugged it off, and thought “that’s rich, coming from someone who married their high school sweetheart…” You know what, though? Those people who got married young or who didn’t find dating all that difficult… they’re still married…. and being married is hard. Maybe they had regrets when they gave me this advice, or maybe they were just wise enough to see that being married would be so much more difficult if it wasn’t to the right person. Either way, why argue that?

It comes up during “would you rather?” games late at girls’ nights. It comes up when I’m trying to honestly reassure people that I’m fine not being in a relationship at nearly 29 years old. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be in one, trust me, I do… but I don’t want to be in one just to be in one. I’ve seen FAR TOO MANY crappy ones to be alright with settling. From where I stand, I’ve been single for 29 years… and for 10 of those I’ve been keenly aware of it. I can see the temptation to give up and settle just because of the fear that no one else may come along… but I can also (and more so) get behind the idea that given how settled into the path I’m on, and how great my life is and my friends are, why would I give all of this up for less than great?

This brings me to the worst piece of advice I’ve ever received.

It was the middle of summer. I’d been talking to a guy I found on eharmony for about four months. We hadn’t met in person yet, with him being on the East Coast and having a job that made travelling rather difficult. It had been a while since I’d heard from him, and this is something I’m a touch insecure about. It seems to happen to me a lot – I talk to someone for a while, then for whatever reason (I never get to find out), they decide they’re not interested in me anymore, but they don’t tell me – they just stop talking. Maybe they think they’re going easy on me, by not coming right out and saying it… but if you’re reading this and would ever consider doing that – please know I’ve never met anyone who found it better to wonder for a week or two while waiting to hear from the guy. At any rate, I was upset, because we’d been talking for months and then he just stopped talking … it was at two weeks and counting.

A long-time friend, whose advice I’d valued until this point, gave me advice that left me in a puddle of confused, angry, insecure, tears. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I sobbed myself to sleep after this conversation, and it took hours to get there..

He expressed to me that perhaps the reason I was still single and was having limited success with my attempts at not still being single was a direct result of my attitude that makes me unwilling to settle. Perhaps if I stopped saying “if he can’t accept that part of me, he can shove off” to parts of my personality, and molded myself into a more acceptable person in the eyes of those I’m trying to attract, I wouldn’t still find myself unfortunately boyfriend-less. Perhaps if I stopped saying that some of my evidently inherent character flaws were part of my personality that need to be accepted, and were more in tune with what others find attractive, I’d BE more attractive to those I’m trying to attract. Because apparently my shape and my face are plenty attractive enough, but the essence of who I am needs a bit of work. To be fair, he didn’t really have concrete examples – other than like… I’m intense. Yes, I am. I’m intense. And somewhere out there is a guy who will love that about me. Oh, also, I’m boisterous. Yup. I’ll own that. I’m that, too. Yet another thing I’m not going to give up just to find a guy… because I will be miserable. Those two things are a very big part of who I am, and I know many people who love both of those things about me. SO essentially… the advice giver got a ‘shove-off’ for a long time. We’re talking again, but not like we have in years past. Even if any of it were true, he didn’t have the right to speak over me in that way, especially not with the justification “I felt if I didn’t tell you, no one would.”

The advice given to me by a very trusted friend the next morning was like a breath of fresh air as I struggled with my own sense of self because of the words spoken to me. I was told that, in fact, those things WERE endearing qualities of mine, and that those aren’t things I should need to change in order to make myself attractive.

Long story short: There’s someone out there. He’s going to love my passion and moments of high intensity. He’s going to love my high energy, and my bouncy boisterousness. And between the super wise advice of my amazing, trusted friends… paired with some dangerous untruths, I have fully embraced my quirks, and hold true to the idea that since they are not in fact flaws, and are in fact personality traits, I will not settle for anyone who doesn’t love me for them, along with the rest of me.

Oh, and ps — if this is too serious for you, please stay tuned for a Red Flags (like the good old days!) post scheduled to release on November 6, 2013 — my two year blog-iversary.

Image is Everything (I’m Done)


I follow a lot of other bloggers’ blogs.  I find it gives me inspiration for topics, it informs a lot of my stylistic choices — I would never have thought to bold things that I want to stick out on my own… and also — I have learned just how verbose and overly wordy I can be when I started reading others’ writing.  1000 words…. I can say that in 6000!  haha… I digress.

I read a post just now… about five minutes ago… on OlivetoRun.  I love this girl’s writing so much.  She speaks to me.  She pretty much slays me with her serious posts, and her confession posts make me laugh.  Her workout ethic inspires me, and I just love following along with her.  This makes me sound creepy and #awkwardfangirl ish…. but I promise, I just really admire her as a writer because I feel like she’s real.

Tonight’s post that fell into my inbox was about healthy being the new skinny.  I opened it up, thinking to myself “there will be nothing new here — people have been saying this for a while now.”

I tell people I believe that… but when I really look into the core of who I am, I don’t.  I would almost always rather be skinny than healthy if I got to choose.  I’ve talked before about my own journey toward a goal weight, that ended disastrously in my almost controlling myself to an eating disorder.  Disordered thinking ran rampant at the very best.  (I can’t link it, I don’t remember what post it was.)

But read this…. read it twice if you have to to get it to sink in.

I read it, and I wonder how much of my poor self esteem and my poor body image and my self loathing every time I look in the mirror rub off on the precious minds of the beautiful young children that I teach.  When I try to scooch through two chairs and don’t fit, and tell the kids jokingly that “I’m not that skinny” (even though I’ve never seen anyone who is skinny enough to fit between two back to back chairs that are almost touching), I wonder what kind of a message I send.

I wonder if any of them go home and think “I’m not that skinny, either.”

Maybe I’m being over dramatic.

But maybe I’m not.

And if my bad attitudes about food, weight, and self esteem negatively impact even one of those precious kids…. isn’t that enough damage?

I read the opening quote, “I weigh myself three times a day. Once when I get up, once when I get home, and once before bed.” and I thought “yeah… that’s bad… no one should be that dependent on the number on a scale… I check a few times a week, but…”

And I kept reading.

And when I read that that quote came out of the mouth of a ten year old girl, my heart broke.  Shattered.  I literally sat alone in my rec room and gasped for air for a second because I couldn’t fathom how a ten year old girl got to a place where she felt that she needed to make sure her weight was in check three times a day.

I don’t ever want to be even a contributing factor to a kid who feels like that.

I want to help kids see their pure beauty.  The beauty within, and the beauty on the outside.  I mean, when I look at people with a God-centered focus and I get rid of my worldly lens, I find it truly difficult to be able to label anyone ugly.  It’s time I start looking at myself through that very same lens and I go back to trying to be healthy, rather than skinny….

I will not worship a number on a scale.  I will not look in the mirror and call myself fat, ugly, or disgusting.

I will not make self deprecating jokes in front of my precious little kindergartens, grade 1s, and grade 2s…. especially the girls, but all of them.  I refuse.  I won’t contribute.

This ends here.

p.s. this was written Monday, October 21st.  I have discovered the joy of being able to schedule the publishing of blog posts so that I can write four posts in 2 days and not release them all on top of one another.  It’s amazing.  (You might be a writer if….)

You Might be Insufferable on Facebook if….


Confession:  I’m a social media junkie.  I spend a fair amount of time on Facebook, on blogs, on Pinterest, and some time on Twitter, though I tend to prefer to hash tag in person lately…. read this post about my Color Me Rad race weekend for the story on that…

I recently read an article on The Huffington Post that someone posted on their Facebook page.  I find that normally, I find The Huffington Post to be rather interesting, and I usually share the opinions of whoever’s writing — at least to the point where I can close whatever I’ve read going “huh, interesting” if not “yeah!  right!?” …. but not this time.  This time, I read right to the bottom… a rarity for me… and grew increasingly annoyed the more I read.  The article is called “7 ways to be Insufferable on Facebook.”

I have never considered myself to be insufferable before.  Sure, I get that sometimes I do things or say things that can be obnoxious, or I post mundane, useless crap on the Internet — but I am not alone there.

Please allow me to rant my way through the 7 ways suggested by the author of this Huffington Post piece, if only to make myself feel better.  I waited almost a week after reading it before I tried to blog this, for fear I’d rant uncontrollably and with no filter.

The article starts off with this supposed Facebook status that a friend sent to the author.  While I agree that this status is definitely an over-share, I think the anger that follows is completely unjustified, and I’ll tell you why.

2012 was a biggg year for me. I left my amazing job at NBC to move back to Chicago. I started dating my angel, Jaime Holland. I started yoga (thanks Jake & Jonah). I wrote an album with Matthew. Wrote another album I’m proud of. I got to hang with Owen Wilson, and worked with Will Ferrell on an amazing project. Had a conversation about Barack Obama with David. Danced. Joined a kickball team. Won a couple awards. Helped my sister plan her summer trip. Swam a lot. Golfed a little. Cried more than you would think. Read The World According to Garp. Saw Apocolypse Now. Went to Miami for the NBA Finals. Drank the best orange juice I’ve ever had with Davey Welch. Tweeted. Went to amazing weddings in Upstate New York. Drank a ridiculous amount of milk. Learned how to make sand art. Saw a great light show. Saw the Angels and Lakers. Fell in love with Jawbone Up. Cooked with Jaime. Gardened with Jaime. Watched Homeland with Jaime. Wrestled with Jaime. Laughed for hours with Jaime. Fell in love with Jaime’s family. Worked on a play. Played World of Warcraft. Did some improv. Played a ton of the guitar. Really just had a wild, amazing year. What a world.

My biggest issue with this entire post is this… and I’ll come back to this over and over…

The point of Social Media is to share.  And it being your account, and your life, you get to be the author and decider of what gets shared, when, and how much of it.  In my opinion (and I realize fully that it probably isn’t shared by everyone), having to filter your own thoughts and posts based on some standard of Facebook (or whatever other site) for fear of being judged by the etiquette police is absurd.

And I quote:  A Facebook status is annoying if it primarily serves the author and does nothing positive for anyone reading it.

I’m sorry… MY updates about MY life need to do something positive for everyone who reads it ever, or it’s annoying?  If I have anyone in my friend lists on any social media platform who feels this way, feel free to delete me and thus end our social media friendship.  I am friends with those I’m friends with on these sites because somewhere along the way, we crossed paths and felt we needed to continue crossing paths in the future.

The author goes on to harp about how all annoying posts consist of one or more of the following five traits:  Image Crafting, Narcissism, Attention Craving, Jealousy Inducing, or Loneliness.

Insufferable Post # 1 — The Brag

Apparently, if something great has happened in your life, and you share it in a Facebook status, you’re bragging, and are therefore Image Crafting and trying to induce jealousy in all of your followers.

I’m not sure about the author’s friend list, but I know mine consists of a few of the following types of people:  friends I don’t see often anymore but still love to keep up with, grandparents, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, former colleagues I love, and current very close friends, all of whom are usually fairly interested with my posts about achievements.  Likewise, when someone posts something like “Guess who just graduated!!!” I love to celebrate with them, because I care about them.  Many of these people, I would otherwise have fallen completely out of touch with.

Included here was the Undercover Brag

Examples:

Apparently they now give PhDs to frauds and drunks. What a time to be alive!

I’ll be traveling for the summer if anyone knows someone looking to sublease a Soho apartment in July and August.

On my walk home from work, I was whistled at twice, honked at twice, and one car almost caused an accident slowing down to stare at me. Sometimes I really hate men.

The second one got me…. because I understand 1 and 3… though I still think if they want to post those things, they being the authors of their own accounts, they have every right to do so…. The second one makes me angry, because I don’t think asking if anyone knows anyone looking to sublet an apartment is bragging.  If I posted that without the “I’ll be traveling for the summer” part, I’d very quickly amass a pile of comments back on the post going “where are you going?!”  Sometimes these social media sites can be the best networking resources, and then you may be able to say, avoid subletting to a total stranger because you posted on Kijiji or Craig’s List for fear of breaking a Facebook etiquette standard.

Insufferable Post # 2 – The Cryptic Cliffhanger

Description: A post that makes it clear that something good or bad is happening in your life without disclosing any details.

Reason for posting:  Attention Craving.

I have nothing to say here, because, while guilty of this myself, I completely agree.  I know I’ve never written one of those posts without fishing for responses to it.

Insufferable Post # 3 – The Literal Status Update

Description: An actual status update on someone’s mundane day.

GUILTY!!!  And I’ve been called out on it.  But here’s that point that I’m gonna keep going back to — my Facebook, my content.  If I want to tell you that I ate a banana, I’m going to tell you that I ate a banana.  I don’t care if you don’t care, because I’m sure at some point, you’ve posted something that I couldn’t have cared less about, and now we’re even.

Insufferable Post # 4 — Inexplicably Public Private post

I have nothing to say about this that I haven’t already said, though I agree that if it’s an inside joke or something to say to just one person, it can probably be done in a message.

Insufferable Post # 5 — The Out-of-Nowhere Oscar Acceptance Speech

Description: An outpouring of love for no clear reason and aimed at no one in particular

Example: I just want to say how thankful I am for all of you who have touched my life. Your support means everything and I couldn’t have gotten through a lot of things in the last year without you!

Core reasons for posting: Attention Craving

I refuse to believe that everyone who expresses something they’re truly thankful for is craving attention.  REFUSE.

And this made my blood boil.

“And isn’t that a little needy of you? You’re not feeling loving when you write this post — you’re feeling the need to feel loved.”

I started to feel, at this point, like the author either needed a hug and never gets them, or needed to go have some rum, or something… whoever wrote this is seriously cynical and questioning of all motives… and I don’t think that I could function if I always saw these kinds of motives behind the actions of everyone I know.  I think we MIGHT be reading too much into the Facebook statuses of others here… maybe.

Insufferable Post # 6 — The Incredibly Obvious Opinion

Examples of this included when a tragedy strikes, and you send out your thoughts and prayers, your thoughts on a war-like conflict, and feelings about the outcome of an election.

My blood boiled again when I read this author accusing those who post like this of being narcissistic and of crafting their images, mostly I think because his reasoning for this being insufferable is that you’re not saying anything remotely interesting or original on the topic.

…. who cares?

Insufferable Post # 7 — The Step Toward Enlightenment

Description: An unsolicited nugget of wisdom.

Examples:

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~Buddha

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

I don’t see what the big deal is about new years and people claiming how different they are going to be next year. If you want to better yourself it shouldn’t matter what day of the year it is… Me? Im going to be the same person I am today tomorrow.

Core reasons for posting: Image Crafting; Narcissism

Is it not possible that someone read something (a quote, a verse, a section of a book) or had a thought about life, found it interesting, and wanted to share?  Isn’t that what this author was accusing us of NOT doing at the beginning?  If the post isn’t of any value to the reader, we shouldn’t post it… but then if we post something that we truly believe will have value for some readers, we’re clearly crafting our image and being narcissistic.

I think what kills me about this post is the self centeredness of it all.  What the author is saying, or at least, so it sounds to me… in this entire article is “if I can’t be gratified in some way by what you say or post, you shouldn’t say or post it.  Your Facebook account isn’t about you, it’s about me.”

In conclusion:  I simply refuse to filter and censor my Facebook posts because someone else may not find what I said relevant or interesting.  Many of the things listed in here… I’ve done them.  And I don’t care.  Because I’m the one who logs into my Facebook account, and I’m the one who decides what goes on there.  The neat thing about some of Facbeook’s recent changes, is that I can also choose whose posts I get to see.  I mentioned above that I have many close friends and relatives as Facebook contacts, and I enjoy being able to keep up with them and they enjoy reading my stuff as well.  There are also several people in my friend list that I don’t really know that well, and their posts aren’t usually very relevant to me — well you know what?  You can now go into the settings for each individual friend and decide whether you even see their stuff in your newsfeed or not.  There could be a handful of friends on your account that are there only in spirit, essentially — you’re associated on Facebook for whatever reason, but you’ve stopped receiving what they were posting in your news feed because it was annoying.

There are ways to hide and filter out things and people you don’t want to see.  If you’re not doing it, you have no right to complain about things others post, because you could easily hide it if it bugs you.  You also have no right to complain because it isn’t your feed.  If you don’t like it, get rid of it.  Especially if it’s stuff on my feeds.  If you have THIS big of an issue with something I’ve posted, feel free to hide some or all of what I post, or… if you’re this picky, feel free to delete me.  We probably don’t get along that well anyway, because you clearly don’t understand my adoration of all things social media.

Sex Trafficking 101 – Part 2


Continuing on the heels of last month’s Sex Trafficking information post, here are some more absolutely stunning, heartbreaking statistics for you.  It hurts my heart and my brain to read them.  I hate that I live in a world where this is allowed to happen, and where it’s so hard to stop it.

At The Exodus Road, they really want to focus on the heart of the issue this month.  These are kids.  KIDS.

* Human rights investigations have discovered that minors can be typically sold an average of 10-15 times a day, 6 days a week, totaling between 9,360 and 14,040 sex acts a year. The girls received none of the money.   (Source: Shared Hope International)

* According to the California Child Welfare Council, kids as young as 10 are being peddled for sex every day in Los Angeles County … the average life expectancy of children who enter the sex trade is seven years. This means, on average, a child forced into prostitution at age 12 will be dead by 19.  (Source: http://www.dailybreeze.com/general-news/20130902/a-call-to-crack-down-on-those-who-pay-for-child-sex )

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Doesn’t that break your soul to shreds?

I found The Polaris Project’s website interesting… and I headed through a few of their links.  If you’re interested in more information, check them out.

A Word about “Rescue” from the Exodus Road

In the counter-trafficking world, there are varying understandings of the term “Rescue” and how it is used to describe an activity a nonprofit is undertaking. While the term is ambiguous at best, we wanted to briefly define what we mean when we use it in our organization.

When we at The Exodus Road say “Rescue,” we do not mean offering a prostitute a job, preemptively saving a girl from a possible trafficking situation, or saving a child from poverty, lack of education, or a risky future. These are all noble and important tasks that many are doing well. And we applaud and support their good work, absolutely, because it is necessary to this fight for freedom. (Truly, the modern day slave needs all of us committing to finding solutions to their injustice from a myriad of varying angles.)

However, when we at The Exodus Road talk about “Rescue,” we are referring to the removal of a person from either:

  • an actual trafficking situation (ex. raid with police of a locked brothel) or
  • sexual abuse to an underage victim (ex. pedophile abuse).

The “rescues” we support involve situations where the victims are being sexually exploited and do not have the power to leave on their own accord, whether by force, threat, violence, coercion, debt, etc. As per UN guidelines and definitions, any girl or boy under the age of 18 engaged (even “willingly”) in prostitution is technically a trafficked victim since the international community deems a minor not old enough to make the choice to sell themselves for sex.

(Source: The Exodus Road: About https://www.theexodusroad.com/about-us/)

In this last picture, I know they’re all American statistics, but it doesn’t change the heavy weight of them, or how badly something needs to be done.  It happens here in OUR backyard in Canada, too, I just don’t have pretty ‘eye-catching’ statistics images for you.

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Also, check out Jamie the very worst Missionary’s blog…. This speaks far more about what the folks at The Exodus Road do than I ever could.

Stay tuned in early November for information about a book tour Laura Parker’s book, also called The Exodus Road, which you can get on Amazon in Kindle edition if you’d like!  I don’t have a Kindle… I’m going to need a way to get a paper copy (I won’t go into why I firmly believe paper copies should never die in this post), but it looks like a solid read regardless.  Laura Parker works with The Exodus Road.

 

#bestweekendever


This weekend was the best weekend…. quite possibly of my entire life to date…. I seriously can’t remember a time where I’ve had more fun, laughed harder, or been sadder when it ended.

I did a Color Me Rad 5k in Hamilton this weekend… well, at Christie Lake Conservation Area… and I’ve never been, but it’s beautiful, and I’d love to go back and hike/wander at a time when it wasn’t being overrun by runners.  haha I’m punny.

I ran it with two dear friends and a new friend.  Now this new friend is unlike any other new friend.  Have you ever met anyone where the second you’re introduced, you know you’re going to be mega bummed when you have to part ways?  I’ve only ever had it happen one other time in my life.  But it happened yesterday.

I met Jeannie right before we got in the car to drive to Dundas.  We’d been informally introduced by Ange on Facebook, but boy oh boy Facebook does not do this new friend justice.

#iminlove

Oh, bad habit we fostered this weekend… I now hash tag at completely inappropriate times and I think it’s hysterical.  I’m sure not everyone will agree, and I’ll have to try really really hard not to say “hash tag criss cross applesauce” tomorrow, I’m quite certain.

We hit up Starbucks pre-race, because everyone needs a little caffeine, sugar and whipped topping to course through their veins before a 5k.  (Please note, most of us are not hardcore runners by any stretch of the means, and this being a fun run, we decided to maximize the fun and minimize the run).

We weren’t quite sure where to go, but stopped at a stoplight, to what did our wandering eyes did appear, but a lovely young lady with “RAD” tattooed on her face.  I yelled out from the backseat…. “FOLLOW THAT SUBARU!”  And we did.  Thankfully, they knew where they were going!

We arrived, took copious selfies as we got all layered up and warm and ready to #beastit.  Walking toward the check-in point where we picked up our swag, Becky yells out “I HAVE A CRAMP!” and the laughter started all over again.

I also have to admit that for the first time in my life, I fell prey to the duck face photo… I’ve never done one before that wasn’t clearly mocking everyone else who’s ever done one… and I’m looking back through the pictures now to realize to my own shock and horror that I duck faced… on my own phone… and I kind of like the picture an awful lot.

We stopped along the way, took many more selfies, asked strangers to take pictures of us, and we laughed and laughed and laughed….

We changed in the parking lot… legit.  Well, now me…. I chickened out and changed in an outhouse.  I should have changed in the parking lot…. it was gross.

We went for lunch and professionally carb loaded.  East Side Marios anyone?  I don’t think we truly deserved it since we didn’t run that hard, but meh!

Then, after some time apart (mostly to spend the whole time showering to get the corn starch dye off of everywhere…. seriously… it went through two shirts.  EVERYWHERE!), we met back up at Value Village and then back to one of our houses to continue the fun.

The fun spilled into today, but then Jeannie left.  And while I still have other amazing friends here, and I do not take them for granted, I love my new friend already.  It’s like I’ve known her all my life.  And I hope I see her again soon.

And — if you’ve never done a colour run — I highly recommend that you find the nearest one and sign up.  Amazing.  You don’t need to be a runner.  You don’t need to run the whole thing!  The first one I did, a lady did it in flip flops and her wedding dress…. seriously… do it.

Please enjoy the pictorial recap of what I just wrote to you…. and I have not included the picture of what my bathtub looked like at the end…. but it was gross.  (ps — the pic of me running is me imitating the Phoebe Run from Friends... I don’t actually run like that…. I hope…. and I definitely didn’t run into a horse)

1275868_10151927642560240_1023442542_o 1391677_10100301476037300_1288295131_n 1392048_10100301476052270_284288669_n 1410693_10151927642895240_2012514323_o1400180_10151927652345240_193553838_o 1402056_10151927647480240_1915548991_o1399144_10151927650985240_1755436195_o856605_10151927657275240_382768421_o1399411_10151927659730240_604759945_o

oh… and the dye is Gluten Free!  (random fact)

Dear Greyhound – a letter to address a concern


Dear Greyhound,

I’m writing to you, mostly on behalf of my brother’s friend, but also out of my own frustration.  Are you aware that you have bus terminals over-booking your buses on the Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend, and repeatedly bumping passengers as a result?  If you’re not aware, please allow this letter to inform you.  If you are aware, shame on you.

Let me start by clarifying — I’m not mad.  No, I’m disappointed.  I’m disappointed that a mega company such as yours would place so little value on the customers they serve that the following story could even come to pass.

You see, Friday evening, I battled long weekend traffic to make it to Barrie, Ontario from Brantford, Ontario… which, on Thanksgiving weekend Friday, leaving Brantford at 4 pm, is a chore.  I took back roads with my car to completely avoid touching a highway… not because I was in a super big rush to get to my final destination, but because I was picking people up in Barrie, one of whom was a passenger scheduled to arrive at 7:30 on a bus from Yorkdale.  He had a pre-paid ticket.

When the bus arrived at the Yorkdale terminal, however, your passenger found that the bus had been oversold, and since it stopped in Toronto first, he wasn’t able to get onto that bus because it was already full.  And he couldn’t get on the next bus.  Or the bus after that.  Finally, after waiting an hour and a half, he thought he’d be able to get onto a 6:30 bus, but that one was canceled.  He wasn’t given a reason.  A 7:15 and a 7:45 rolled on past, neither time allowing him to board.  The next bus, he was told, would be an 8:30, and that would be the last.  Later, he was told it was a 9:00 bus.  If this was to be the last bus, and he were unable to board, his ride further North for Thanksgiving weekend would leave without him, leaving him stuck, and still at the bus terminal, after being there 4.5 hours already.  His only other option was to hope to catch an Ontario Northland headed for Burk’s Falls, arriving at 8am the following morning.

Thankfully, he did manage to get on the bus at 9:00.  That meant that he arrived in Barrie at 11 pm (remember how he was supposed to arrive at 7:30?), which also meant that I drove, exhausted, another two hours North until 1:00 am.  We were supposed to arrive at 9:30 pm.

I understand that travelling during the holidays can be tough, but the point of reserving a ticket in advance, in my mind, is so that you know you have a place on whatever method of transit you’re using.  When you overbook a bus, I imagine you do this because you assume that not everyone who pays for a ticket will show up, and you can stipulate no refunds and make money on people that don’t even use your service, because you’ve charged more people than you can fit on a bus.

There is no excuse for this kind of greed and poor customer service.  Your passenger wasn’t offered any refunds, any compensation… he was offered nothing, even though he held in his hand a bus ticket to Barrie arriving at 7:30 pm.

I see that customer service is not high priority here.  Personally, I find the idea of overbooking anything abhorrent to begin with.  When airlines do it, people miss connecting flights, cruises… many of these things are non-refundable.  However, when airlines bump someone off of a flight for which they already held a ticket, they are legally required to generously compensate the traveller for their inconvenience, as well as get them on another flight.  Your passenger was simply told that he could try for the 9pm bus, but that that would be the last bus.

I consider it highly irresponsible at best that you can’t foresee heavy traffic on a holiday weekend, and that you don’t plan accordingly in order to have enough buses.  Moreover, I find it shocking and, to be truthful, indicative of a major ‘value of customers’ deficit that nothing was done to try to compensate passengers who’d worked or sat in classes all day, only to sit in your terminal for four and a half hours before finally being able to catch a bus… that they had to sit on for another two hours or more, depending where their end destination would have been.

How dare you?

Is Greyhound that hard up for capital income that they have to rob people of their holidays?

I expected better from a company that services so many people all over the country year long.

Personally, I’ve only ever traveled with Greyhound once in my life.  I assure you that after the way my brother’s friend was treated yesterday, I will not make that mistake a second time.  I can also assure you that once I have posted this letter on my blog, https://thisblogisepic.wordpress.com, (which has a reach of 800 people, many of whom will likely pass it on among their readers), there will be many others who will make the choice to find an alternative themselves.

It is absurd that you’re legally allowed to pull this off, but even more disconcerting  to me is the fact that Greyhound is a-ok with paying customers being treated in this manner, especially on a holiday weekend.

Sincerely,

A really disappointed family.

When Words Fail


I’m not often rendered speechless.  There aren’t many times in my life where I can honestly say I didn’t know what to say.  I can usually talk my way through things (though fantastically enough, I can’t usually talk my way out of things), and I’m normally able to come up with something to say in most situations.  Especially in writing.  I’ve had times where I’ve fumbled to string words together coherently in person because I was nervous or upset or (insert excuse here), but I don’t often find that words fail me when I sit down to spill them out.

In the last couple weeks I’ve had a few instances where I’ve found that my words have failed me.  Utterly, abysmally failed me.  And as a writer, a talker, and in general, someone who is fully capable of using words to adequately express herself — let me tell you, it sucks.

But I’ve sensed a common theme.  I’ll give you the examples and you see if you can guess what the theme is before you get to the bottom of the post.

1.  There’s someone in my life who’s been on my heart for a long time, and I’ve been trying to come up with ways that I can be an effective witness, and all of them seem to fall short.  I squander opportunities to have meaningful conversations about Jesus, His unfailing Grace, and His unconditional love, and I let them slip by the wayside — either that or I completely botch them.  I’ve been trying.  And I’ve been failing.

2.  Lately any time anyone has come to me for relationship advice, I have been left pretty speechless (side note:  I don’t know why I strike people as wise enough for this, I feel completely and embarrassingly inexperienced and inadequate in this department, but I’m thrilled to be of assistance where I can regardless).  I do my best, but I often feel like I come out sounding like an idiot.  Perhaps my best angle in this case is to be a good sounding board — to provide the ear that listens really well but doesn’t follow up in speaking — because otherwise the best I can do is guess “well here’s what I think I’d do if it were me,” which is weak anyway.

3.  Recently, someone I know lost a baby mere weeks before her due date.  She and her family are understandably devastated.  I wasn’t able to attend the funeral because I was sick and I couldn’t bear the thought that I’d add more to her life by giving her this stubborn cold that has settled into my chest and set up camp over the past three weeks (I love working with young children, I really really do).  I wanted to express my sympathy to her and her family, but I was nervous about it because if there were ever a time where it would make sense for words to fail me, here would be an excellent example.  I’m sure in this instance words have failed many people and they’ll continue to do so as the grieving continues.

Given that I couldn’t attend the funeral, I wanted to pick up a card and mail it.  I figured that I am so much more well-versed in the written word than the spoken that it shouldn’t be too difficult to express myself in a card.  I spent a solid half hour in the card aisle at Target, just looking for a card that didn’t say something weak like “cherish the time you had together.”  It turns out, Hallmark and Carlton don’t know what to say to grieving parents who never met their child, either.

I found one eventually, and I’ll labour over finding the right words of my own to write inside, but it’s been this process of trying to find words that has made me a wee bit introspective in the past few days — why do words fail me?  They so rarely do.

Let me tell you why I think they have.

Have you found a pattern yet?

It’s been my experience that when I rely on myself, I’m able to accomplish ordinary things at ordinary levels with ordinary efficacy.  Conversely, it’s been my experience that when I rely on God, I am able to immeasurably more than I ever could have imagined.  After all, these words that I’m usually able to pour out whenever, wherever, and often feel I NEED to if I’m ever going to be able to relax… these words and my ability to put them together are a gift from God Himself.  When I try to keep them in my own power, and I try to use what would otherwise be a strength on my own, not trusting the Giver of this gift, of course they fail.  Why should I expect my own words to be the ultimate selling point on how amazing Jesus is.  My faith, and the faith of others, and what we’ve collectively been able to accomplish because of our faith — that should sell Jesus.  And when I rely on my Precious Saviour, the words that need to come out should come.  When I let myself be the vessel through which God speaks, that’s when the real magic can happen… well, not magic, but… you get the cliché.

Relationships are a gift from God.  We’re designed to long to be in them, and they’re designed to give glory back to our Father.  When they don’t seem to be working out how they should, no matter the reason, even if it’s that we aren’t yet where we thought we’d be by now, trusting God can help me have the words to say (if I need to say any at all — I think the point I made above about being a good listener is valid and not at all a cop-out when it comes to this point… I have no relationship experience, I shouldn’t pretend that I know what to say).

And finally — how could my words outdo those of the Great Comforter?  What could I possibly say on my own strength that would be more sufficient than what God could say through me?

If you were reading along and you thought that it sounded like I needed to pray before I entered these situations and be more open to the leading of the Spirit, who will guide me to the right words when and if they’re needed — then you were right.

My prayer this week is that I’m a better listener than I am a talker — both to those who need my words, and to those who don’t.

I don’t want to marry Bible Ken


Following up with my post from earlier this week about how I am not in fact Bible Barbie – I know, you’re all shocked…. I have a few reflections.

I received more feedback on this particular post than I have on any others I think.  This post cranked me up to more views in 48 hours on my blog than I’ve ever had before, which suggests to me that I’m not the only one who feels this way.

A couple of comments really stuck out to me though.  One was on a friend’s Facebook account, as she posted the post to her Facebook wall, and another was a comment onto the blog itself.  Both expressed deep resonance with the content of it, stating that they completely agree that this Bible Barbie phenomenon is a really tricky one.  But both also expressed concern and frustration over the number of women looking for Bible Ken.  One of the commentators was a man who said that he’d been overlooked based solely on his height, and said he has friends that have experienced something similar – for one picky little thing or another.  Another such picky issue was “not having a good enough job” – which to me (and to others) translates to not making enough money.

When I first wrote the I am not Bible Barbie post, I attacked it from my standpoint only.  I saw men who wanted these flawless, athletic, toned women, deeply entrenched in a flawless walk with Christ, and I got frustrated because I don’t know how to measure up to that.  I can’t be flawless in body or in faith.  I’m too broken of a person living in too broken of a world for that.  Does that mean I give up?  No, I continue to persevere and strive to be the best version of me that I can be, and hope that through Christ, Christ is glorified and exemplified through me.  But I’m not always successful.

I’ve talked to many women though who have equally high if not higher standards for men than most men I’ve run into seem to have for women.  They’re looking for Bible Ken.  They’re looking for a tall, handsome, funny man, with broad shoulders, who is good with kids, older than them, has a steady, really well paying job, loves his mother, and I see musical a lot….. AND…. he’s head over heels in love with Jesus, doesn’t have anything rough in his past, wants to do Bible Studies all the time, probably plays on worship team….  Now, to be fair – guilty.  I am guilty.  I want ALL OF THESE THINGS.  {Oh, and while I’m being picky, can he please drive a massive pickup truck that will cost all of that huge salary to fuel?}  But I am also realistically expectant that whomever I marry will likely not possess ALL of these qualities.  And do you know what?  That’s ok.  And it’s my opinion that it should be ok.

Some of these desired traits or facts make sense – I would be hesitant to date a guy who doesn’t have a job because I want to stop working and have a family, and be home with my kids for the first few years until they’re in school.  With only one of us working, that doesn’t fly.  I don’t think that’s shallow.  But if I put an income cap on who I was willing to date?  If I said “oh, you don’t make at least 40,000 per year?  We’re done.”?  That’s shallow.  And it’s not fair.  And it’s terribly limiting.

I like men who are tall because I feel safe and protected, and because I’m a pretty big girl to start with.  It’s been my experience that men who are shorter than I am don’t tend to like to date girls who are bigger than them.  Maybe that’s an unfair stereotype.  I welcome anyone who thinks we’d otherwise be a great match to prove me wrong, but it has very much been my disheartening experience that when I find a man who seems like otherwise he’d be a great fit, it goes well until we meet in person and I get an email or text back the next day (if anything at all) telling me he’s not attracted to me and he doesn’t see this working out.  Best of luck.

Long story short – I could dissect my own personal reasoning behind each and every thing that I’d like to have in a mate, but a lot of it is unimportant.  Here’s what I believe to be truly important, and everything else would be icing.  I have a top five non-negotiable list.  Here are the things I refuse to bend on.

1.  Does he love Jesus?

If you don’t love Jesus, I don’t care how much money you make, how tall you are, how good looking you are, or how incredibly hot your truck is, we won’t work.  But do I expect that you’ve got it all figured out and you’re this super-Christian-amazing-never-screw-up kinda guy?  No.  I don’t.  Because I am not that girl.  I can’t expect it.  In a good relationship, we can work towards that together in Christ, even though we’ll never achieve that this side of Heaven.

2.  Does he have a stable job and a good work ethic?  Does he LIKE his job?

If I fear that in a couple years, we’ll be broke, going bankrupt, and that you’ll be shocked and not know where it came from, we’re not going to work.  This is not a matter of how much money you make, because men who make tons can still manage it incredibly poorly.  I need to know before I’m willing to explore a serious relationship that managing finances is not going to be something that tears us apart from the inside out – and I don’t think that’s unfair.  Do I have a preferred salary?  No.  Further, I don’t care if you make 6 million dollars a year.  If you loathe your job and you’re going to come home daily/nightly complaining about it and never be happy because of it, this isn’t going to work.  That negativity spills into all aspects of life, and I know for myself that I couldn’t be with someone who hated his job but was unmotivated to better that situation.

3.  Does he respect me?

Respect flows inextricably through everything.  Do you respect me enough to not let things go weeks without communication?  Do you respect me enough to adhere to boundaries we set together?  Do you respect me enough to ask my opinion in big decisions?  Do you respect me enough to value my opinion?  Do I feel respected?  Will you respect my comfort levels in a relationship I’m probably scared to be in?  Do you respect my family?  Do you respect my job?  Do you respect my hobbies — or are you going to roll your eyes at me and wonder why I want to go do that AGAIN….

4.  Is he a family man?

Do you want kids?  Are you excited to be a Dad?  Are you prepared to raise your family with Christ as the centre?  If I’m getting the sense that you are not these things, I will be moving on.  Ideally, I’d love a man who’s close to his own family, but I understand quite well that that isn’t always in our control, and it’s not always feasible.

5.  Is he as into me as I am into him?

This one is new for me.  It has replaced “does he have a car?”…. although I’m still very hesitant about the idea of a guy without a car.  I’m not a chauffeur, and I love to travel, so I feel strongly that each of us having transportation is necessary.  But I digress.  Recently, I’ve gotten myself into a trap where I was willing to hang onto a guy who was showing little to no interest, but I stuck around for a couple reasons.  First – I was afraid I couldn’t do better.  Second – the distance he was keeping me at felt fairly safe, it meant I didn’t have to commit, and that was great.  But let me tell something to you (yes, said Robin Williams Happy Feet style).  I’m done.  If I feel like I have to fight for your attention and pester you to talk to me….. I’ll stop trying, and we’ll be done, and it’s not going to take very long.  Some may call this impatience, but I feel that there’s a decided lack of respect coming from a man toward a woman when he’s that indecisive and that aloof about me as an option.  It screams to me one of three things – he’s either talking to several women at the same time, and doesn’t have time for me alone… or he’s afraid to commit… or he’s really not that into me but he’s afraid HE can’t do better, so he hangs on.  I don’t think that I’m undeserving of holding out for the good stuff, and so I wait for great.  And that works both ways – if I’m not interested, I’ll tell you.  Flat out.  Because while it may be awkward in the short term, it leaves no room for misinterpretation.

Moral of the story – I’m not looking for Bible Ken – I’m not going to turn a guy down because he isn’t tall, dark, handsome, making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and driving a beautiful truck, OR, more importantly, because His relationship with Jesus isn’t flawless.  Why?  Because I’m not Bible Barbie.  Because I expect that a real man has more to offer me than a fake, plastic edition who is clearly trying too hard.  (Disclaimer: I don’t think everyone who is tall, good looking, has a great job, and loves the Lord is plastic and fake.  I really don’t – out of my league?  Perhaps.  But not fake.)