Wreck My Life


What a ride this book was.

I selected it from a list of possible titles for the month because the synopsis looked like I’d be able to relate on a few levels to the author, Mo Isom.  I’m thinking specifically of the terrible car accident she experienced, but I figured if I could relate to even one part of someone’s story on a deep level, it would be a good autobiography to read.

What I did not expect was how this book would wreck me.  Mo Isom described that car accident in such detail that I put the book down and didn’t pick it back up for almost two weeks.

Her struggle with her quest for control of her life and using food to get there, though to a much deeper extent than mine, resonated hard with me, and I put the book down again.

To be perfectly honest, I nearly didn’t finish the book.  It was such a roller coaster of emotions for me, in a way that no book has ever wrung me before, that I just didn’t want to deal with it.  It felt too overwhelming.

But I persevered, and I’m glad that I did.  The tagline to the title of the book is ‘Journeying from Broken to Bold,’ and so I should have known that the latter half of the book would be full of encouragement for how turning toward God and letting Him have control, letting him work in and through her circumstances would bring about an outcome positive enough to write about.  The back cover explains “Mo reminds us that the brokenness is actually the very place God meets us the most, and the place where we can find Jesus like never before.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever struggled behind closed doors with anything, whether you can relate to her circumstances specifically or not.  It’s worth the read right to the very last page, as I found the last chapters so deeply encouraging.

I find that I’m filled with empathy for Mo’s story, and yet I’m so glad that she’s been able to find the good so that she could share that with so many people in ways she’d never have seen coming while she was planning her own life.

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Book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

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31 goals


I turned 31 two weeks ago.  It felt just like any other day.  There was no fanfare, no trumpet blowing, no life-changing ‘a-ha!’ moment to signal that another year had come and gone.  Just some loving friends who made sure I wasn’t forgotten, took me out for dinner, went to wander around the local art gallery’s Christmas light display (which was bizarre with no snow…. weird), and then to Starbucks for a gingerbread latte.

It was lovely.

But at dinner, my dear friend Laurel encouraged me to set 31 goals, as I turned 31.  She said it’s something she started doing at around 27, and she’s really enjoyed it.

To me, it seems almost like having to make 31 New Years Resolutions, because my birthday is a mere 3 weeks from the moment when the entire world notices that another year has come and gone, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’ve decided to take Laurel up on her suggestion, and I’ve decided to set 31 goals.

I’ll check back in around this time in 2016 and let you know how I did

  1.  Read 40 books (So far this year I’m at 22 of the 25 book goal I set for 2015.  I think I can pull it off.)
  2. Write every day (summer 2016 — I’m not going to Camp for the first time in 6 years.  I think writing about SOMETHING every day is a solid aspiration).
  3. Be generous.  I’m not limiting this.  I just want to be open to the voice of the Holy Spirit and do what He tells me to with the money and time I’m blessed with — things like helping refugees and caring for the homeless.
  4. Actually use my Instagram account.  I just revamped it yesterday.  Follow me if you’d like: @epicwings84
  5. Love deeply.  Who cares if I get hurt?  Hurts heal, but regret takes longer.
  6. Learn to chord on my mandolin
  7. Learn to chord on my guitar
  8. Keep playing the violin
  9. Not hide my piano in its carry-case/bag, but actually play it every once in a while.
  10. Create a music nook in my basement — because 6, 7, 8, and 9
  11. Watch all the Star Wars movies.  I’ve never done it.  I want to know what they hype is about.
  12. Actually read my Bible.  I haven’t figured out what this looks like yet — whether I start a plan or just read, but I want that to be a Dec. 31-Jan. 1 deal, since I already missed my birthday goal start by 2 weeks.  Details to follow.
  13. de-clutter my home.  It’s so cluttered.  I can’t handle it.  I will be removing clutter, filing clutter, giving away and selling clutter.  And if I manage to pull out enough to clutter to have a sale of some sort, I will donate the proceeds to somewhere important — probably to refugees.  They hurt my heart and I want to help everywhere I can.
  14. pray more — not in a “God, this situation sucks please fix it” kind of way.  In a “I lean into the Spirit because the Spirit is in me, and let’s do life together” kind of way.
  15. Start running again.  This is a tentative, hopeful goal.  I don’t know if I can do it, because I wrecked my ankle a couple years ago.  When I stopped running, I then gained a bunch of weight, which leads me to 16….
  16. Lose 50 pounds.  Or more.  But at least 50.  But healthily.
  17. Eat good food.  Goal # 16 does not have to mean I don’t eat good food.  It means I stop eating sour keys and chips.  Seriously — big vices right there.  I just got a Ninja professional kitchen system for Christmas.  And a veggie Spiralizer for my birthday.  And a sweet frying pan.  I seriously feel like I can make anything.
  18. Learn.  I keep saying “if I were to ever go back to school, I would study….” Well, I’m not going to go back to school.  I haven’t paid off round 1 and 2 yet.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t just learn.
  19. do something adventurous and scary.  I haven’t decided what that is going to be yet.  Time will tell.
  20. Play more — do the things I love even if they seem a little childish and like a waste of time.  Like colouring.  Or playing in the rain.
  21. actually stick to my budget.  At the end of August, I created a spreadsheet that’s been really helping me watch where my money is going.  This needs to continue.
  22. Choose love.  Where I can judge, be snarky, be rude, or even just be apathetic… I must choose love.
  23. Practice my French.  I’m not teaching it anymore, and this is the third year in a row that I haven’t been using it regularly.  I don’t want to lose it.
  24. Drink water.  This sounds so cliche and ridiculous, but it’s something I really, really, really need to do.
  25. Take my vitamins every day lol.  See 24.  Also, I’m running out of goals.
  26. Take time to watch the sun both come up and go back down.  I tend to ignore the sunrises, because I firmly believe I should be sleeping, but they’re a part of the natural process, and their beauty is just as profound.
  27. Install a dog door in my back door so Kloe has freedom this summer — something she’ll miss not going to my Mom’s for 2 months.
  28. Road trip somewhere (in Ontario) that I’ve never been.
  29. Write a song.
  30. eat way, way less refined sugar
  31. Choose joy — life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.

 

We’ll chat at the end of 2016 and I’ll let you know what I accomplished.  Do you have any goals?

That time I nearly quit Facebook


Quitting Facebook seems to be the thing to do to make a statement these days.  Tired of the drama?  Pull yourself out of it by deleting your Facebook account.  The truth is, I know very few people who don’t have a Facebook account, and I can’t say I ever handle it gracefully when I find out.

The conversation usually goes pretty much exactly like this:

Me:  I’ll be in touch.  I’ll add you on Facebook and then just send you a message.
My Conversation Partner (CP):  I don’t have Facebook
Me:  *stunned silence* You don’t… have Facebook??  Why not??
CP:  It’s a big waste of time and I just don’t like dealing with all the drama.

(or something fairly similar to that)

I think that the reason it always shocks me so much is that I absolutely love Facebook.  To be honest, I spend an inordinately large amount of time on Facebook, and while the drama has gotten to me from time to time, I find I can usually solve the problem by unfollowing something or taking a break.  I have never wanted to quit before.

Until about two weeks ago.

I couldn’t bring myself to actually cut the cord, because the reasons I love Facebook are that I can keep up with family and friends that I don’t see regularly, and the idea that I wouldn’t be able to see what those peeps were up to broke me a little bit.  But those same reasons that I love it are also the reasons I was hating it.

I’m mostly an extrovert.  For the past 6 years, my entire summer has been spent at Camp, surrounded by people, and at most times with not enough alone time.  I’ve got a few introverted tendencies that pop out when I’ve just spent too much time surrounded by people, but I just need a couple hours to myself (usually with a book), and then I’m good to go again!  I would hands down consider myself an extrovert.  This summer though, I came home early.  I wasn’t working very hard and I missed my friends, so a week and a half before the end of the ministry season, I packed my car up and made the trek back South.  The first two days of unpacking, cleaning, and organizing while getting ready for another school year to start were amazing.  They were what my tired body and soul needed, even though it was exhausting.  I’ve never gone into a school year all unpacked with a clean house before…. likely because I tend to get home from Camp at 11:30 pm on Labour Day, and have to get up 7.5 hours later and go back to work.  I was loving every moment of my solitude, and I wasn’t spending a lot of time on Facebook OR Netflix (which was precisely what I told everyone I was going home to do).

Then I got lonely.  So, so lonely.  I had nothing really to do once I was unpacked and my basement was clean and organized, so I collapsed onto my couch with a bag of chips and logged into Netflix.  While binge watching Being Erica, I scrolled mindlessly through Facebook to catch up on things I’d missed from having limited and unreliable Internet access for 8 weeks.

But it made me sad!  Facebook isn’t supposed to make me sad, but I found that while I sat by myself, after more than enough alone time for an extrovert, I started looking at the cool things my friends were doing, and instead of being happy for them and enjoying the adventures of the people I care about, I got jealous.  And sad.  And lonely.

After a day or two of mindless scrolling, getting sadder and sadder and more and more lonely, I came to the fed-up conclusion that I needed to take a break from Facebook.  I needed to quit.  I needed to walk away from it, and even though I’d be sad not to see updates, it would better for my mental health.

Except I made it only a few hours before I wanted to share a picture.  And then I made it only another half an hour before someone commented on the picture and I wanted to see what they said… and so on.

What I discovered was that I didn’t need a break from Facebook.  Sure, I probably needed to not spend hours at a time just scrolling through my feed while I binge-watched Netflix…. I did go play my violin, play with my dog, write for a bit, organize more things, and get my back to school shopping done… because that much screen time isn’t helpful or healthy no matter what the circumstances… but I didn’t quit Facebook.  I discovered that it was my attitude toward the information I was receiving that I needed to change.

While I was scrolling, I came across this post from Blog Her written by a woman apologizing to a friend for unfollowing her on Facebook because she was jealous of the great life she appeared to have.  When I read it, I remembered some of the statistics I’ve read while looking into the effects of Social Media on my students.  Apparently I’m vulnerable to the effects myself….

If we compare ourselves to others, regardless of the circumstances, we will never be satisfied with what we have.  And how can we be happy and content when we’re constantly jealous of what others have?  But what I have to remember is that while I’m sitting on my couch and I’m sad because I’m bored and lonely, I’m comparing myself to the version of reality everyone else is posting.  Their best faces go forward on Facebook, just like mine does, and that’s what I think is one of the biggest dangers to the comparison game.

I stumbled across this yesterday, which is also apt here.


Image Source

The reality is that somewhere, someone may be scrolling through their feed and wishing their life was as cool as mine, but that doesn’t mean it’s ok for me to compare my life to anyone else’s.

My life is great.  I have fantastic friends, and an exciting new job adventure starting on Tuesday, and so I don’t need to read what my friends, family, and acquaintances are up to and be sad.  I instead can praise God for the great things they have going for them, and I can be thrilled for their successes.

It’s when I stop being able to do that that it may genuinely be time to get off Facebook… because otherwise what’s the point?

That time I went to the movies by myself… and nothing happened.


Last Tuesday I really wanted to go see Into the Woods.  There are friends of mine who would see it with me, sure, but my usual movie buddy was absolutely not interested.  Something about it being a musical and a fairy tale adaptation combined, I think, haha.  (I do highly recommend the movie if you like musicals and fairy tales.  I loved it.)

I decided I was going to try some independence and not care what anyone thought of me, and I was going to go by myself.  After all, I had a pretty good feeling I’d enjoy it, knowing my love for musicals and fairy tales.  Once Upon A Time, anyone?

I did get a little apprehensive though about going to the movies alone in the same city where I teach… so I planned to go to the next city North of here, mostly because I had stuff to return at Old Navy and I don’t have an Old Navy… but also so I didn’t run into students at the movies by myself.  At least this way, if someone thought I was lame, I’d never know about it.

I headed out of the city though and it started to snow… not just flurries.  Snow.  Especially at night, the “if it’s snowing, I’m not going” mantra tends to fit me well, and especially to leave town.  I ended up getting quite nervous about what my drive home would be like if it snowed like that the whole time I was gone.  I turned around.

I went back to the theatre in my city, determined that I was going to see this movie, and determined that I didn’t care if anyone cared.  I had visions of being able to pile my stuff on the seat beside me, sprawl out, not care if my movie buddy liked the movie or not, and just really enjoy myself…. until I walked into the theatre and it was so jam packed full of people (and kids!)…. I guess I forgot it was Tuesday because it was Christmas break, but Tuesday is cheap night and it being Christmas break, that made it even busier.  You could hardly get in the doors.  I left.

I was disappointed in myself though because I did want to see the movie.  I ended up watching “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” on Netflix — Brilliant, if you haven’t seen it.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Friday morning, I checked the weather — clear skies, dry roads, I was good to go.  I headed North into the next town, made my Old Navy return, and because I wouldn’t have time to make my massage appointment later in the afternoon if I stayed for the 1:40 show in the other town, I came back to my town for the 1:00 (I love it when these are my dilemmas — Christmas break rocks).

Here’s the thing…. I kind of expected at least one person would look at me funny for being alone.

No one cared.  Is it possible this has been MY hang up all this time and not anyone else’s?

What’s the big deal?  You don’t talk to the people you’re with during the movie anyway!

I got to pick my upper corner seat, I got to spread my stuff out because the theatre wasn’t very full… not even half I’d say.  And because I sat right above the stair well, I got to put my feet up on the wall in front of me.  Comfort.

I munched on my popcorn and almond M&Ms in peace, and thoroughly enjoyed the entire movie.

This will not be the last time I go by myself 😉

The Dollarama Incident


Yesterday evening, something happened that I feel I must share with you, my faithful readers.  I was (wrongly) accused of shoplifting yesterday in a Dollarama… of shoplifting chocolate bars.

I hadn’t, naturally.  There are better things I can think of attempting shoplifting on for the first time than a Peanut Butter Oh Henry and a Reese Peanut Butter Cup.

But here’s the story.

I went into Dollarama after a trip to Costco with a friend.  I can’t remember even 24 hours later what I went in for, it couldn’t have been that important, but I went in because I obviously thought I needed something.  I go into this Dollarama all. the. time.  It’s maybe a minute from my house, and teaching means Dollarama is a girl’s best friend.  No joke.  At least once a week.

While I was in the candy aisle, texting a friend, I was kind of pacing back and forth.  My hands were in and out of my pockets because that’s where my phone was, and I kept picking up chocolate bars and putting them back down because a) I couldn’t  make up my mind on what I wanted, and b) I was trying to remember what I went in for, and c) my friend and I were making plans for tonight.  While I was pacing, I caught sight of this woman who appeared to have just paid for her purchase, standing just by the cash register counters.  She was staring at me, and not discreetly.  When I caught her stare, I looked back at her with a “what?!” kind of look, and when she continued to stare, making me uncomfortable, I put the chocolate bars down and turned to leave the aisle.

See, my first thought was that she was fat-shaming me.  I don’t know why I assumed this, because she was about the same size as me, but my own insecurity played out and my inner voice saying “you don’t need this” led me to jump to the absurd conclusion that this woman was judging me for buying candy.

Somewhat thankfully, she was not fat-shaming me.  Instead though, she was assuming that when I put the chocolate bars down, I didn’t put them back on the shelf but in my purse.  She alerted a cashier of her assumption.  I can’t fault her for this, I guess.  I suppose as I look back at this incident that if I was sure I saw someone shoplifting, I’d probably tell someone as well.  After all, when things get stolen, prices go up because the store isn’t making their projected profit.  Also, on the level of my inner Junior Kindergarten student, it isn’t fair that I have to pay for things when other people don’t.  Yup, I’m petty like that.  What I hope I wouldn’t do is stare awkwardly, even after alerting staff to the situation.

This woman did that.

Over the PA system came the alert “Security scan all aisles.”  I didn’t think anything of it.  I hadn’t done anything unseemly.  A cashier I was familiar with (like I said, I’m in there all the time) came down the aisle I was in, and I turned and said hi.  She walked up behind me, and the conversation went like this:

“It’s been reported to us that you were seen putting chocolate bars into your purse.”

“I didn’t, I put two down, back in their box, cuz that lady at the cash counter is staring at me and making me uncomfortable.”

“Would you mind showing me your purse?”

“Sure, I don’t have anything to hide.”

I took my purse apart, showed her the various pockets, and then rifled through the collection of tampons, pepto bismol, advil, lip gloss, hair brushes, bobby pins, and elastics that collect at the bottom.  Satisfied with what I’d shown her, she apologized and thanked me for cooperating.

That should be the end, because like I said, I didn’t do anything wrong, but as I rounded a corner, this woman was still staring at me.  I still couldn’t remember what I was there for, so now I’d taken to wandering up and down the aisles, looking for whatever it was I went in for.

Down to the heart of this…. I feel like I need to share what’s bugging me about it.

Just minutes before all of this went down, and then again just a minute or two later, I had run into one of our grade 8 students from my school.  As a teacher, we’re cautioned very strongly about our reputation, and even more strongly about the perception of our reputation.  I don’t think this grade 8 student saw me being searched in the middle of the store, right in front of the toy section, but I know that it wouldn’t be good if he did.  He’s a lovely student, and so I’d hope he’d be able to see the truth and not spread rumours, but rumours are all it takes before parents don’t trust their child’s teacher because they heard she steals.  I run our school’s book fair, I collect student money on occasion…. if my students’ parents hear that I was accused of shoplifting at Dollarama, why would they have any reason to trust me with their money?

What I would like to have seen is a discreet cashier who gave me the opportunity to show her the contents of my purse in private.  I didn’t think it through in the moment, I just wanted to show very quickly that I wasn’t a thief.  It was embarrassing, though, to have to do that with complete strangers standing watching, and I spent a good deal of time last night fretting about what was going to happen at school today if the student saw anything or said anything…. and I sincerely feel that that was unnecessary.  It was unnecessary worry in the first place, and I know that, and I should have known better, but it isn’t a situation that should have happened, in my opinion.  I sincerely believe that there’s a more dignified way to prove you’re not a thief.

I don’t know what it is, because I imagine if I HAD tried to sneak the chocolate bars into my purse, asking to speak to me in private wouldn’t have helped, because the crowd of witnesses would have been helpful while I refused to open my purse based on the privacy act and blah blah blah…..

I just think there has to be a better way.

Am I the only one?

Has this happened to you before?

What do you think?

After Stares-a-lot left the store and I regained my composure, though I never did remember what I went in for, I finally decided on at least a Toblerone and went and stood in line to pay for it.  The cashier that had searched my purse in the first place came over to me to apologize, explaining that as soon as she saw who they’d accused, she thought it couldn’t possibly be true, because “you’re in here all the time and you always pay for your stuff.”  To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s comforting or disconcerting.  I mean, I’m glad I’m trustworthy and all, but that might mean I’m in Dollarama FAR too often.  She said she hoped I wasn’t offended, and apologized sincerely again.  I was not upset with her in the least, she was just doing her job.

I paid for my Toblerone and went on my way, but while leaving the store to go to my car, I saw the lady who’d reported me leaning against the wall outside the store with her friends, still staring at me.  All I can say is I think she’s lucky I wasn’t in the mood for a fight and that Gotham was about to start, because I had half a mind to go encourage her to be a bit more certain next time she accuses someone of shoplifting.  But, I guess on the good side for all of us, Gotham was about to start, and I had a Toblerone to eat.

Dancing with Myself


I went to a wedding this weekend.  It was beautiful, it was lovely, it was awesome!  It was my brother’s wedding, and I was thrilled to be a part of it.  It was my little brother’s wedding.

He’s not that little, I mean, he’s 27.  I am 29 and my wedding hasn’t happened, and I’m totally ok with that, because I haven’t found someone I want to walk down the aisle with, and I refuse to settle.

The thing is, a couple times during the evening, I was told the following things:

“You’ll never get a boyfriend if you keep doing that [taking ridiculous selfies].”
“I hope you can find someone to be happy with.”
“Your time will come.”

The ‘your time will come’ didn’t bug me quite as much because it wasn’t quite so condescending, despite the fact that I don’t think any of them were meant to be condescending.  In fact, I suspect the last two were meant to be encouraging, but… anyway.

The first one made me jump to my own defense.  See, normally I’ll take those comments and accept them, assuming that perhaps the person is right and I am doing something that’s keeping me single.  After reading a blog post though about food shaming and a lady who stood up for herself, I decided I’d do the same.  The conversation went down like this:

Me:  (sitting taking ridiculous selfies of myself at the dinner table)
Someone:  You’ll never get a boyfriend if you keep doing that.
Me:  No.  I don’t think that’s true.  There’s someone out there who will love me for all that I am, stupid selfies and all…. and if there isn’t, well, then I’ll be happy being single because I don’t want to change just to get a guy to like me.

I felt pretty proud of myself, because normally I internalize that stuff, but while I do believe the person who said it was just telling me something they thought would be helpful information, I don’t believe it to be true for a second.  I’ll find someone someday with a silly side who loves that I take stupid selfies.  It’d be awesome if he’d even lean in for a couple every once in a while.  I’ve been taking selfies since before selfies were cool… legit… I’d turn my disposable cameras around backwards and then be mad when I’d develop the film and half of the pictures were of half of my face cut off because it’s hard to angle them when you can’t see a screen.  Technology has made them a lot easier!  I’ll post some of mine from my bro’s wedding for you to see… haha I figured I wasn’t gonna look that dolled up again until my own wedding day.  Some people say they’re attention seeking.  Some say they’re narcissistic.  I think they’re just plain fun, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

 

To “I hope you find someone to be happy with” I responded that I’m already happy, and that a man can make me miserable if he’s not a good choice, so I’m not just going to settle for someone for the sake of being with someone.

 

Lastly, to “your time will come” I simply said “thank you.”  This person was pretty much a stranger, and didn’t really know me, so had no way of knowing that I don’t resent my lil bro for getting married before me.  Also, can I tell you how much I LOVE my sis-in-law?  My brother’s got fantastic taste.

 

With my new-found self-confidence that evening, I got out on the dance floor and danced like no one was looking, even though people were watching.  This is not like me, I promise.  I had grandparents watching, and sometimes they were laughing… because, well, I was doing the lawnmower and the shopping cart… I deserved to be laughed at haha.  But you know what?  I had fun.  I dragged my grandmother out on the dance floor, and I taught her how to slow dance.  That was so much fun, and it’s a memory I’ll cherish forever.  My grandma had never danced before, and she even came out on the dance floor during a fast song and started shuffling and moving her arms to the beat… determining that “I think it’s just about having fun!”  and she’s right.  So it doesn’t matter who’s watching.  It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks you don’t look amazing.  It doesn’t matter if all you know how to do is shuffle to the beat or jump up and down (hello high school lol).  My step-Dad taught me how to polka, and it was fun!  and I don’t care if I didn’t look good doing it.  My Grandma was right, it’s just about having fun.

 

Anyway, selfie time!  Here they are!  Allow me to state that as someone who enjoys taking pictures very much, the ability to play with the light from behind me, whether it be from the sun-reflected lake or bouncing off the glorious fall leaves… it’s fun.  I suspect the admonition that stupid selfies won’t get me a boyfriend probably comes more from the 2 silly ones (which, by the way, I didn’t post on Facebook and am only putting here to make a point), but anyway…. here they are.

 

 

IMG_4813 IMG_4867 IMG_4880

IMG_4881   IMG_4962

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
IMG_4931 IMG_4930

 

 

Yeah. This.


These are the things I’ve been trying for …. a long time …. to articulate.

I haven’t been able to.

So I haven’t done it.

Now, granted, I don’t relate to every single bit of this, but I sure relate to a heck of a lot of it, and I couldn’t have said these things better myself.  Perhaps I’ve been too scared?  Anyway.  Who cares?  I found someone who can say it for me, so here it is.  The post is called “Are you sure you should eat that?”

Thanks so much, Jenny Kanevsky at In Other Words… you’re on my follow list and I will be sticking around.  I found you on BlogHer and I’m so glad I did.

Mirror Mirror


Look in the mirror. Does the person you see match the person you feel like on the inside? How much stock do you put in appearances? (WordPress prompt)

I have to be honest.  I wasn’t going to write this prompt (it’s from two days ago).  It strikes me as just the kind of thing that takes away from my One Word for this year (value) and makes me focus too much on outward appearance.  But I came across some pictures that are a few years old today, and they pretty much broke my heart.  Let me tell you why.

I don’t like to put too much stock in appearances.  Or at least…. I like to think that I don’t like to put too much stock in appearances.  But I think that when I am really honest, I actually put a lot of emphasis on it.  And it bothers me how much emphasis I do seem to lay there in my life.

You see, here’s the deal…. I’ve written about my struggle with weight before.  I’ve written about my struggle with self esteem before… I’ve even tried writing love letters to my body…. I’ve struggled with both of these things fairly consistently since I was 8-10 years old, and it pains me to admit that, but it’s true.  And I don’t know how to fight it.

Sometimes it feels like the voices in my head that tell me I’m fat and ugly and not worth anything have gone away… and then sometimes they show back up, and they pop back in, and they mess with my brain, and they make me want to hide.

Today is one of those ‘I want to hide’ days.  I truly do.

I was going through some pictures in iPhoto, trying to select some that I needed to print for a Grade 1 Science project for tomorrow.  I scrolled too far back, and ended up scrolling through the pictures of trying on bridesmaid dresses for my Mom’s wedding… almost three years ago.  If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that I recently had a bit of a debacle with dress fitting… because my brother’s getting married and I’m in the wedding party… and I’m a size 18.  Well, I found these pictures from when we were trying on dresses for my Mom’s wedding… of me in the dresses I was loving life in… because I was thin.  I hadn’t done it properly… I know that… but I was thin.

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But I still thought I was fat.

I remember being very self conscious that day because my arms were flabby and I still didn’t like my legs.  I look at the pictures now, and I wonder how I ever thought it would be a good idea to trade that body for food… but that’s precisely what I’ve done, because now I need to start all over, and I want to… but it’s so disheartening to know that I did it once… and now I have to do it again.

I don’t know what the solution is other than to give it back to God yet again, and to ask Him to help me see my own value.  And I’m not saying that isn’t a good idea… I know that’s a good plan… I just wish I could stay rooted there.  I never seem to stay rooted there… and then everything comes sneaking back.

I know I’m supposed to be seeing value here… but I’m struggling with that tonight.

So… long story short, yes, I suppose I do put stock in appearances… but more in my own than in anyone Else’s.

I am feeling defeated tonight.  Please pray for me.  That is all.

When you’re a really little fish in a gigantic ocean


I went into downtown Toronto yesterday to go bridesmaid and wedding dress shopping with my brother’s fiancee and the rest of the bridal party (I’m a bridesmaid).  I’m not a city girl, by ANY stretch of the means.

I drove from my town to the nearest GO Train station and left my car in the parking lot.  It was a little over an hour on the train, and to my shock, I’ve discovered that while I become violently motion sick while moving if I read in most other forms of transportation, I can read quite happily on a train.  I read for a glorious total of 2.5 hours yesterday with all the time I spent on trains and subways.  I think, if I ever had to take a job in the city, I’d move closer, but not that close… just close enough to take the train.

I made my train by a measly 4 minutes, which if you know me at all is not acceptable, and I felt quite at odds about it.  Once I was settled into my seat on the train with my open book though, I was much happier.

I arrived at Union Station and Roseanne, the maid of honour, was to pick me up at Front and Bay street, but if you’ve been downtown Toronto lately, you know that Front Street by Union is pretty blocked off because Union Station is completely under construction.  Roseanne had trouble finding me.

Once we finally met up, after I’d waved off many hopeful taxi cab drivers and explained to very many random wanderers that no, sorry, I have no idea where the aquarium/York Mills/whatever is… I don’t really even know where I am…. we were able to proceed to our first appointment.

We went for lunch after the first place, and it was delicious!  If you’ve never been to Artegelato on Bloor, I recommend it.  Good panini, and the gelato looked AMAZING!

We then traveled all over the city, between the downtown core and North York and back again.  Traffic sucked.  There were SO MANY LIGHTS!  There were SO MANY CARS!  There were so many angry motorists who weren’t driving properly, and then got really angry at those who were!  People trying to turn Right, stuck at red lights behind people going straight through (who obviously can’t run red lights) would honk incessantly until the light turned green.  Motorists going straight through would honk while waiting in line behind someone turning left, who obviously couldn’t just turn left into a steady stream of Bay Street traffic.  Drivers would just drive down the middle of two lanes.  Drivers would sneak up in closed construction lanes, bike lanes… really, wherever they could.  It was insane.  I’m beyond glad that I wasn’t driving.  There would have been tears.

By the time we got to the last place, I was exhausted and my self-esteem had taken a huge hit while dress shopping, so I was already edgy and nearing tears.  We did four appointments between 10:30 and 3.  Nutso.  At each appointment, I found that each store only carried my size of dress (18) in two or three styles, and so trying to try on different styles was like trying to stuff a big, fluffy, Queen-sized pillow into a cheap twin-sized pillow case.  It wasn’t working.  At one point, one of the staff at the last place we visited handed me a size ten dress and expected it to work.  I hadn’t looked at the tag because I assumed when I told her I was a size 18, she’d understand that that meant probably the smallest dress I’d be able to get my hips into would be a 16.  Maybe a 14 if it were forgiving.  This conversation actually happened while I was in the dressing room.

As she kept trying to open the curtain, she says “Laura, are you ready?  Need help?”
“No, this dress is a size ten, it won’t go past my mid-thigh.”
“Put it over your head!  I’ll hold it closed for you!”
“I’m an EIGHTEEN!  Putting it over my head isn’t going to work.  My chest won’t fit.  My waist won’t fit.  My hips won’t fit!  It’ll be a really awkward shirt, and I may never get it off again!”

Luckily, despite my not being a size ten, we had tons of time at the last place and were ALL able to find our dresses!  Super exciting.

This is where the fun starts, though.  I had plans to meet my cousin downtown at the Eaton Centre for dinner, and that means I had to navigate Toronto’s transit system all by my lonesome.  I’ve taken Subways, I’ve taken buses, but I’ve never been left to figure it out all on my own before.

I left the last bridal store on Sheppard, which unbeknownst to me is technically in North York, and I started walking the direction I thought I needed to walk to get to the Yonge-Sheppard Subway station.  I was texting my cousin as I walked… even though to my dismay, I left the bridal shop with a mere 29% battery life.  I asked him to text me instead of iMessage so that I could turn my 3G off to save battery, but for whatever reason it wouldn’t work, and I was only receiving his messages as iMessages, so I HAD to leave my 3G on.

It was rainy, it was damp, and the wind picked up through the day yesterday, so it was rather chilly walking through the streets of North York in the dark by myself.  I felt like I was walking out of civilization… which I wasn’t, it just didn’t look built up like I thought it should when I was supposed to be walking toward Yonge Street.  I was actually walking toward Rexdale and Brampton, turns out… because I was walking West and not East.  It would have been a very long walk had I not recognized the fading signs of big city life compared to the quieter buzz of suburbia.  I imagine I’d have clued in by the Allen Expressway if I hadn’t figured it out sooner :p

As I was walking, I got swamped by a TTC Bus… and let me assure you, when you see it happen in the movies, they’re not exaggerating it.  A bus drove through a giant puddle of muddy, icy water and sprayed it all over me.  It ran from my hair onto my neck, down my back, and soaked my leggings and coat.  My purse was soaked.  I was soaked.  And now I was chilled.  And I was lost, and quite frankly at this point, I was scared.  This attempt at independence I had made was not working well, and my poor cousin was waiting at a mall for me.  I felt bad for keeping him waiting.

Found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmuffins/5465619890/
This picture was found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmuffins/5465619890/ I do not own it, and I did not alter it.

Thankfully his phone had much more juice than mine, and he was able to look up transit routes for me.  He explained that I needed to get on the 84 bus going East and take it to the Sheppard-Yonge Subway station, take the Yonge-University line going South, and get off at Dundas, and he’d meet me at the Subway.

I finally saw a bus.  It was an 84 bus!  I had hope!  I ran across Sheppard at the cross-walk and flagged down the about-to-depart bus, got on in the nick of time, and made my incompetence known immediately.  This conversation with the bus driver actually happened:

“Thanks for stopping!  How much is it?”
“3.00”
“Ok.. *I fish change out of my purse.*  Where’s it go?”
*she points to the change intake thing.*
“Thanks!” *I put my change in the thing, and out pops a ticket*
*she hands me the ticket.*
“Is this my ticket?”
“yes.”
“thanks.”
“where do I need to get off if I need to go to the Eaton Centre?”
“Sheppard Station ma’am.  Step behind the white line, please.”
“ok.  oh.  ok.  Thank you!”

My cousin is still texting me subway instructions at this point, and asks me if I got a transfer ticket.  I look to the unsuspecting woman I’m sitting beside, hold up my ticket, and ask “is this a transfer ticket?”  She nods.  I tell her I’ve never done this by myself before.  She smiles and says it takes some getting used to.

I managed to get off the bus at the right station, and I managed to get into the subway station.  I found the first person dressed in a TTC uniform, and asked him to tell me where I needed to go.  He brought me to a map, where I was made keenly aware of just how far away from the actual city’s downtown core I really was, and he very kindly explained to me exactly what I needed to do.

This picture was found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/8320951638/lightbox/ and was "posterized" in Picasa to hide faces.  This picture does not belong to me.
This picture was found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/imuttoo/8320951638/lightbox/ and was “posterized” in Picasa to hide faces. This picture does not belong to me.

I texted my cousin to let him know I was off the bus and at the subway station, and then I planned to text him once I was on the subway to tell him I was leaving, but I had no service for like ten minutes!  I turned my phone off for a little bit to save some power.  By this point I had 16% battery life left.  I turned it back on after about ten minutes, only to find that I had a text from him saying “u ok?”  I assured him that I was, told him I was on the subway and would be there soon, he told me he’d meet me by the doors at the Dundas station, and I told him I was turning my phone back off.

Luckily, I was able to find him, and let me tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see a familiar face in my life.  He gave me a big hug, and then as the stress released, it hit me that I was in fact quite hungry, and needed to eat.  We went into the food court, and I purchased a meal that was far too large, and couldn’t finish it.  Then, I made the very wise decision to go to the Telus store and purchase myself a car charger for my phone so that I’d have it when driving after returning to my car.  The last thing I’d want would be to break down on the 403 at night with a dead phone.

We had a nice visit, and decided that on a Saturday in the near future, I’d come up to Toronto for the day, and we’d see some of the sights and do some of the cool things the downtown has to offer, and I’m looking forward to that.  I feel like I can handle the GO train, and I can handle the Subway, but without my cousin texting bus instructions, I don’t know what I would have done.  Walked to Brampton, maybe?  Died on the streets of North York?  Who knows?  I’m being dramatic, of course, but I was getting quite scared.  If I hadn’t had battery dying issues, I’d have just Google Mapped my course, but I wanted to make sure I had at least some battery power in case I had an emergency.

The biggest thing I learned through this entire ordeal is that I am not cut out for big city life.  I very much enjoy that my city takes 15 minutes to get across, and that while the drivers here are also idiots, I feel much safer at home.

It was an experience…. one that may have shaved a year off my life due to how tense I was.  At one point I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or vomit…. or do both… and then I couldn’t decide what order I’d do them in.  I was stressed.  It did, however, give me an opportunity to pray.  I asked God to help me see where I needed to go as I stood in the lobby of an apartment building trying to get warm, and regrouping my thoughts trying to figure out what to do.  Just after I walked back out the doors to turn around and walk back East, I saw the 84 bus on the other side of the road, and I booked it.  It had to be divine intervention that the crosswalk let me walk just as I needed to to be able to catch that bus.  I don’t know how far apart those buses run, but at the very least, I knew I wasn’t going to die on the streets of North York.  There was hope.  And in that moment, that one thing was enough to get me going again.  Thank the Lord.

As I watched all the people around me moving seamlessly on and off the bus, then transferring to Subways without any hesitation, I very much felt like I was on the outside looking in on a totally different culture and way of life.  Big City living is not something I’ve ever had to navigate solo, and while I will try it again to go meet my cousin in the city, I will make sure I have a charged up battery, that I bring my charger with me (an outlet at a Tim Horton’s for 20 minutes would have saved a LOT of trouble!), and that I’ve planned my routes out ahead of time.  Never again will I assume that public transit “can’t be that hard” when you’re a teeny tiny little minnow swimming in a sea full of really experienced, gigantic…. whales?  I think that’s about how small I felt yesterday.  A minnow in a sea full of whales.

 

 

 

** The photos used in this post are licensed for use by Creative Commons.  I do not own them, and I was not endorsed for using them.**

The dreaded 2014 budget.


It’s that time of year again.  Even if you’re like me and decided not to make ‘New Years’ Resolutions’ per se, and you’ve only chosen one word, the beginning of the year is still valuable for some things.

Budgeting, alas, is one of them.  I have a tendency to start out strong, and make these beautiful budgets up and determine how many thousands of dollars I’m going to save or put extra onto my debts.  I do it every January.  I calculate, number-crunch… what have you.

And by February, I’m wondering why I don’t know where my money went again.

I’d like to say that I want this year to be different.  It’s my hope that by sharing my intentions (and some of the resources I found today) on here, that people who love me and read this (*cough* my parents *cough* wink wink nudge nudge) will keep me accountable to this goal.  I like the idea of seeing where my money goes.  Knowing where every cent has been spent or used (either well or poorly) makes me happy on the inside…… but this hasn’t always been true.  Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up A LOT this year.  Maybe it’s because I have a plan in mind for all those extra cents (I am redecorating in March, plus I really want a new violin), or maybe it’s even because I am working on getting myself ready to someday be married, and managing my own finances is a huge step toward being able to help manage a family’s finances.  Whatever the reason, I want to be a good steward of what I’ve been given.  It’s all part of valuing myself (see my One Word post), knowing that the time I spend working for all that money is worth something, and there’s an end product that doesn’t need to be squandered at fast-food joints and clothing stores.  That’s right — squandered.

Anyway, I thought I’d show you some of the nifty resources I found while I was perusing the internet (with a purpose!) today.

I made a budget binder.  In it, you’ll find the following things.

First of all, a financial checklist for all the bills.  I find I have a terrible time remembering whether or not I’ve actually paid a bill.  I set reminders on my iCal and on my phone, but sometimes those arrive at inopportune times, and I think it’ll be very helpful to be able to look at this on Saturdays (my proposed budget review day), and go “yup, I’ve paid all those that were due.  Excellent.”

e0def-financialchecklist

Secondly, a printable budget sheet that is broken down into every category imaginable.  I didn’t have to use them all, but it’s fantastic.  And if I need them in the future, they are there!  I printed 12 of these, and they are all labeled with the correct month.  This one doesn’t have an image, it just goes right to downloading the PDF, so check the link out here.

Thirdly, an expense tracking sheet so that I know precisely how money was spent and where, especially in the areas that weren’t budgeted… like my copious trips to Subway and Wendy’s.

found at http://couponsnob.net/2011/12/25/free-printable-expense-tracker-and-instruction-sheet/

Fourthly, a monthly calendar template, which I also printed 12 of, so that I can write down when each bill is due and put a check mark in it when it’s paid.  I’ve also highlighted the bills that DO NOT come out of my account automatically, because I believe there are only 3 or 4 left in my life that aren’t automatic withdrawal.  It may surprise you, but these tend to be the ones I forget to pay 😉

found at http://eprintcalendar.com/monthly-calendar-template-pdf/

Lastly, and this is not budget related, I printed a weekly meal planner.  Well, I guess it’s sort of money related… because I suspect it will save me money at the grocery store, knowing exactly what I need to buy for the week instead of just guessing.  I have a terrible habit of over-buying and then I can’t eat everything I bought before it all goes bad, and I have to throw stuff out.  It disgusts me.  I’d like to stop doing that.  Never mind my hard-earned money, it’s just such a disastrous habit, and the money I save in not doing it could be funneled into a charity that takes care of those who lack enough food to eat on a week-to-week basis… and isn’t that a bigger issue than just “I bought too many baby carrots?”  My meals are planned for this coming week, and I’m going grocery shopping after church tomorrow, buying ONLY what is on that list.

found at http://domestic8d.blogspot.ca/p/printables.html

In completely unrelated news… in an effort to value my health, my life, and the piles of money I spent previously on clothes that used to fit me and now truly don’t, I am dropping refined carbs and sugars like they’re hot …. and I’m dropping them cold turkey.  I can’t see any other way to do it.  I know they’re my stumbling block to weight loss.  Bread, pasta, candy, and chocolate always have been.  I know I need to lose weight — not to ‘look better,’ but because I refuse to buy new clothes again when I can just eat better, and because I know I felt better thinner.  I don’t have a goal weight in mind, I just want to feel better physically.  Sadly, I know the only real and effective way for me to do this healthily is to eliminate the foods that cause me to keep weight on.  Everyone’s bodies are different.  Mine likes to hold on to simple carbs like there’s no tomorrow, and it doesn’t seem to matter how hard I try to wean myself off slowly, I also crave them intensely.  It’s not just a sugar problem, though.  I wrote a post a year ago today after I finished reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made To Crave, about how I use food in a way that it shouldn’t be used… and I’ve slipped back into bad habits.  I need to give up these things, and go to God with my cravings when they show up — not the cupboard.  That being said, if we have to cross paths in the next little while, I’m sorry…. because the sugar withdrawal is hard to go through for the first few days.  I’ll do my best to stay pleasant and not take it out on innocent bystanders….  but it must be done.  Pray for me, friends?