Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sell Out, Shmell Out

About a week ago, I went to Moxie’s to visit some of my ex-coworkers/now-girlfriends for dinner. Every time I visit, I always promise myself to make more of a habit out of it. Being there always seems to bring about that comfort of nostalgia I so often crave. That feeling you get when you come back home after a lengthy trip: happy you left in the first place, as your departure was what lead you through a new journey, but somewhat relieved to be back all the same. Back in your comfort zone, letting the breath you kept held for so long finally come out, letting go of the anticipation and anxiety that you held with you through every unknown step of your latest experience. The reason that these feelings are so bound up for me in what was merely one of several past part-time jobs is twofold—one being that I quit and asked for to be re-hired so many times, that feeling of “coming back” is just hardwired into my emotions by now, two—I have more memories of waking up after a swift nap in the staff lunch booths than I do of waking in my own bed. Anywho, being that it is a restaurant, banter and fun-poking is an essential part of the culture at Moxie’s. So, I was anything but shocked or offended when the conversation between my former boss and the group turned into a full out ridicule directed towards me for “selling out my dreams of writing” for the money and comfort that a job in the insurance industry will (hopefully) give me. It did, however, leave me a nagging thought, a kind of inspiring itch. I took the route of comfort to be able to enjoy my passion as a hobby instead of begrudge it as a job. Yet it seems that I have become over-absorbed in my new life, woven two tightly into the rigidity of routine and schedules. My fiery passion in which I once pursued this hobby has instead now fizzled down to a permanent degree of room temperature on the back burner of my life. So Tom, this one’s for you. Just* to show you I can make money and* write all at the same time.:)


I bought a new pair of running shoes for the gym yesterday. It’s always a somewhat emotional experience for me. (Being a cancer zodiac, to the core, most of all experiences tend to evoke some sort of unnecessary emotion) But when you thrive on the gym as much as I do, you would understand why. Well, first of all, I should explain that, growing up, inanimate objects took on probably much more human qualities than they should have. (Thanks, Mel-Sac). Names were given to toys and things that usually don’t get named, personalities were given to objects that wouldn’t necessarily have a personality in real life, well, objects that couldn’t even possibly have a real life. Essentially, let’s just say we lived in a Pinocchio-esque type of environment in our younger years—we treated all of our puppets as real-live-boys.
It’s only normal that those types of feelings towards my things have carried on through to my adulthood, right? (Just agree and read on).
After confirming that my new shoes had made the cut (through a trial run on the treadmill), I deliberated solemnly on how to properly dispose of my older, worn out runners. A special, separate, bag just for them, I decided. They can’t just get dumped in the big black bag that gets tossed so thoughtlessly to the curb. No, they needed a proper burial. It’s only appropriate, I think. We’ve come so far together, my shoes and I. We could’ve toured an entire small European country in the miles that we’ve ran. They have taken me on some motivating and inspiring trips. They have weathered with me through the bad days--always there to pick up my slack. They have kept my feet dry and clean on days when I decide to abuse them on unforgiving concrete or the unpredictable shore line of whatever given ocean of the country I’m currently visiting. They’ve seen me through to my goals and beyond. They stood by me proudly as I crossed the finish line of yet another 10k, pushing me to keep my pace, to meet my hoped-for time. They’ve kept my feet grounded as I push my legs to do one more squat, lent me the power to push my arms to press just 5 pounds heavier, stayed firm so I can do just one more sit up. Pushed me to my very limit and then showed me I can do even just a little bit more…
Tomorrow will be garbage day. Tonight, with memories in mind, I will pack up my shoes in their special going-away bag. In the morning, they will sit proudly on the curb, their worn-out condition a proud reminder of everything they’ve accomplished, more significantly though, all they’ve help me to accomplish. My eyes may not have memorized their make, or model, or colour, but my mind will remember the lesson they taught me in the power of perseverance, my memory will embed in it all the strides we took together, my muscles will remember the endurance we gained, the strength we accrued.
And so you see, sometimes it’s not so bad to invest emotion into every experience—whether it be a relationship with a simple running shoe, or the memory of an insignificant part time job. What if, instead of making you “weak” or “vulnerable”, “emotionally too-available”, it makes you wiser? Helping you to learn that much more from that much little; helping you to grow faster and stronger—taking something with you every time you walk away, from whatever it is you’re walking away from, as your foundation of growth for wherever it is you may be going.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Rut a tut tut...

My diary posts are almost always inspired by conversation topics that I find to be recurring at any given point in time. Don't you sometimes feel like certain issues just keep on crossing your path? I don't know how or why it happens, but it always gets me thinking...

These past few days I've been thinking a lot about our insecurities and our personal thoughts on our own self-worth. Well, I can't say it's a new topic on this blog, I'm quite sure I've mentioned it several times in the past, but for some reason the issues seems a little more pressing...not only in my mind, but in the minds of others. Recent conversations with friends (from various circles might I add), and the December 2010 issue of Shape Magazine has me convinced that I'm not the only one that ponders or struggles with this issue.

Somewhere, deep in the back of my restless, vast (though not necessarily crowded) mind, I know that I have come a long way. I am sure that I have accomplished a lot...whether it be in terms of education or in terms of health and fitness. I know it. But how often do I believe it? That's a different story...

One of the several articles in Shape that focus on this issue brought up an interesting point: "Most people pay attention to the huge achievements int heir lives: running a marathon, hitting a five-year mark on their marriage, losing 25 pounds. But by also celebrating your smaller triumphs, you'll be happier and up your odds of reaching those bigger feats." (p. 32) As obvious as this statement might sound, when I read it I kind of experienced a eureka moment. A marathon of interviews recently, for both small part-time retail positions and larger full-time career jobs, forced me to speak openly about my past accomplishments. I had no trouble rambling on and on about the charity fashion shows I organized, or my graduation from a top Canadian university, but never once did I come out and say "well, yesterday I was especially tired, hungover and lazy, but I got my ass to the gym and did the best that I could anyways, even if it was half of what I usually do." Why not? In retrospect I realize what an accomplishment that was for me, at that moment in time, and how much of a struggle it turned out to be, but at the time I would never see it that way. Why not, again? Because at the time, all my negative mind could focus on was how upset I was at the fact that I wasn't doing my best and that my workout wasn't as intense or as long as it should have been. Maybe if I focused on how much it was I would have felt much more confident (which is exactly how I should feel) slapping on a skirt and nylons that same evening for a night out on the town...

Isn't it so funny how our mind works? ...But is it our mind, or how our mind is trained to think? Sometimes I feel like we programmed to expect the worst and dismiss the best. A friend of mine said to me recently that whenever she's blessed with a bit of success, the thought of it being ripped away from her scares her away from pursuing the said opportunity she's presented with. I've felt that many times myself.

Isn't it funny how I am now exactly who I wanted to be 5, 10, 15 years ago, yet I'm still not satisfied? The chubby, teased little girl of my past is screaming and yelling at me from inside, reminding me how many tears were cried in yearning of the body I've worked so hard to achieve....why do I keep silencing her?

Isn’t it funny…how the things we are most hard on ourselves are the things that people seem to compliment us the most on?

Isn’t it funny…how after one hurtful experience, we are so quick to build a wall around our emotions and ourselves, that seems so impenetrable? That one hurtful relationship outcome fills us up with so much self doubt and drains us of our self love to the point where moving forward seems so daunting, so impossible?

Isn't it funny that when we initially receive a compliment, of any kind, we are elated, but in the end, how long do we actually carry it with us? I'm speaking for myself only, but I find as soon as I step back into the ever-critical workings of my mind, the kind words and happy thoughts are instantly replaced with harsh reminders of all the goals I have yet to achieve. 

I wish I could conclude this post with a suggestion, with encouraging words. And I don't want to be depressing or negative. There are days when I could run to the top of the mountain and shout to the world how proud I am of myself. But then there are the dark days, when I can feel the failure in every over-worked muscle in my body...including my heart, my mind. I think that we all need to realize that these painful feelings are unavoidable. That no one can be positive all the time. That the gym won't always make you feel better after you binged one too many times. I think the second we can see past these feelings, when we are plagued with them, we will realize that the brighter side as never really left us, that it will creep into our horizon again slowly, if only we have a itty bitty bit of patience, if we just keep on keepin' on...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sleepytime Tea is a Rip Off

Mission camomile tea=fail

Mission eat early to avoid nightmares=fail

Mission warm glass of milk=fail

Mission cut coffee and other caffeinated products from diet=fail

Mission cut down on workouts=fail

Mission sleep=epic fail

Seriously, will I plagued with insomnia for the rest of my life?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On to the next...

After LiLi's Diary spent some time on the shelf, as the desk of femme fraiche left very little room for its pages, I've decided to brush the dust off the cover and indulge myself in some non-foodie-writing. It just so happens that my thoughts are once again inspired by a life change, obviously.

This summer, as I restlessly lay in the Taormina heat, my idle mind wandered to many-a-places. Shortly before I left, I met with my cousin, Twin, to get to talking about the possibility of a career in the insurance industry--something I would not have even looked over once, not to mention twice, on my own. It is my firm belief, however, that ignorance is not always bliss, that sometimes when a little light is shed on something that might be out of our line of sight, we might realize it may be much more fitting than we could ever imagine. With careful thought and research, and a compelling testimony thanks to AP, the dirt road to my future began to take on a much more paved gleam. I decided to pursue it more feverioushly upon my arrival back home.

I am a self-proclaimed extremly impatient person. Well, that's not entirely true, but when I want something I want it and I want to have it....5 minutes ago. So as the vacation came to an end, and the Moxie's bashing with TBagg became more intense with every vodka water San-Pellegrino-Lime, my need to leave (again) hit its strongest point. When I got home, I called my close friend LG on the ASAP to set up an interview with her at her store, even though it meant a move from one retail place to the next. A move was all I really needed, I told myself, to get the ball rolling. I wanted to have a full-time position by Christmas, and I needed the motivation that change and challenge bring me to accomplish my goal.

I got the new job with LG, but unfortunaletly, the position did not work out the way I thought it would. So after leaving Moxie's not once, but twice, I returned. Though this time, I had a little less patience in my drive and a lot more desire to move to the next step in my life than ever before. I spent the past few months sending my emails out into the abyss of the internet, a process I have become oh-so-familiar with since graduation, only to learn that the opportunity I was looking for would come knocking on my inbox door. After a referral thanks to AP, two interviews, a gruelling waiting game (whoever said patience is a virtue obviously never had to wait for anything), I was informed yesterday that I got the job!

My excitement for starting this next phase continues to course through me with fever, as I sit here, the next morning, after a night of extremely restless sleep. It's funny how my stomach knots got tighter with energy as I learned the good news, instead of unravelling like I expected them to. In less than two weeks time, I will officially become the career girl I have been dying to be for some time now.

For any one who graduates without a definite plan, the process of finding your path can be both disheartening and depressing. Just when I thought my objective of being employed by December 25th was unattainable, opportunity presented itself and I learned once again to never doubt your goals. And on top of that, how important it is to make them in the first place.

As I pat myself on the back, I wish it were your hands that were patting me too...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"I could use a dream or a genie or a wish..."

"to go back to a place much simpler than this..."-B.O.B feat Hayley Williams-Airplanes

Usually on my drives home from the gym, my energy is exploding: if weather permits, windows are down, music is on so loud it almost drowns out my even louder singing. But today, after consecutive workout numero 6, my car rang with the sounds of only professional artists, albeit, my windows were still down thanks to 35 degree weather (at 9 am) This time I decided to actually listen to the words of the songs, instead of trying to sing over them.

One, in particular, caught my ear (?<--insert appropriate saying here). From B.O.B feat Eminem and Hayley Williams Airplanes: "And back when I was rappin' for the hell of it, But now a days we rappin' to stay relevant". I thought it was so true. I am not a rap-game-aficionado, but it is still easy to see how the industry has changed. Before, rapping about money and women and cars made you famous and kept you around, now fans are much more educated, now they want something with more substance.

And I thought to myself, now how true is this for so much else in life, so many people, so many situations?

Is ignorance really bliss? Take, for instance, when someone you love is sick or in trouble: would you rather turn a blind eye to avoid having to deal, or scrutinize anybody and everybody for each and every detail in order to be supportive? I remember when I was hit with my first tragedy--when the life of my fun-loving free spirited Uncle Wally was taken from him, and from us. The months of his illness are like a bunch of hazy clouds in my mind--and not because I was too young to have a decent memory of them, but because I felt like I was getting constantly left in the dark, having information withheld from me to protect me, not upset me. I was so angry. My aunt called one day and I pressed her for details. When she glossed over the subject I freaked out. I am not the ignorance-is-bliss type, my curiosity does not allow it. (Although sometimes my mind wishes it would, to keep the fairytale I build in my mind alive and kicking)

I'm not just talking matters of the heart here. This lyric made my thoughts split into a few different strands. I can remember the day, although not clearly or from personal experience, when post-graduate education of any form made you a big deal. When you still had to rip the sides off printer paper. When the internet still required me begging my teenage phone-obsessed siblings to let me share the line so I could chat on MSN. Now, only a short time later, everything has changed. Only PhDs or professional post-grad programs get you a career, and even that is not a gaurentee. Now the internet is a whole other world and if you missed the boat, good luck finding yourself a seat when you finally manage to clambour aboard. Options are endless for anyone for everyone.  Apparently, our generation is just as stubborn as am I when it comes to unveiling the truth, discovering new things, breaking barriers. We have broken more than I think any of us imagined and good for us! But not so good for our futures. When, in the past, there were still windows of opportunity in a lot of fields, now, so many markets are flooded. Jobs that used to require merely experience now ask for degrees and when you show them that, they ask you for a profile that'll impress, enough to make you memorable out of the million other candidates who came before and will definitely come after.

As I see it, you have two options when faced with this challenge. Option one is to keep your innocence, remain ignorant, move on to something else and push your heart's desires to the last page on your agenda. Or you can jump in, take a deep breath, and work slowly. Despite the fact that my refusal to remain uneducated has also given me a slight case of anxiety, all the while leaving me feeling a bit like im constantly drowning, I will not give up my fight for success. It is not every day when I stumble across feelings so passionate. It is even more rare when they last longer than a day, or an afternoon, or an hour. You know that feeling? The one where every compliment or step forward makes you all giddy, every set back only pushes you harder...the one that makes you re-think a routine you normally follow so stubbornly--makes you want to throw it all away and just dive into your dream full-force, no strings attached, nothing holding you back. The one that stays on your mind, even when you want a break, you ask it stop, you try to remove yourself. It is a high I refuse to let fall.

Trust me, if you love it enough, it is worth it. And it is not so cold once you get used to the water...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My mind's in suburbia

Both a recent day trip to the city (with my mama, just like old times) and a recent registration at my previous home-away-from-home (U of T) has had me falling in love all over again with T.O. My daily routine of gym-work-home-sleep has kept me confined to the two major intersections that make up Woodbridge (Weston/Langstaff, Weston/Hwy 7) and it was refreshing to get back into the city for a full day, to walk the same walk I did for four years, to take it all in again. Travelling through the area of Castle Loma got me thinking of Paris, both of the grandeur of Versailles and the chic simplicity of the Parisian-styled town homes that line the neighbouring streets. International delicacies made me realize that European adventures, although cherished and constantly craved, can be made locally if you just open your mind and do some online research.

But after a tiring day, yes, downtowning coupled with a lengthy pit stop at Yorkdale (standard) does get me sleepy, I must say it was nice to come back home. My parents have always had a knack for picking just the right streets to move to--despite moving twice in the past few years, I have never felt uncomfortable and have always felt at home even on moving day, even in the chaos. (I guess it helps that we have stayed in a 5km basis for each move, but that's besides the point). My first home is where I lived the dream childhood--I met my two soul mates, we created our fantasy world and grew up in that bubble. I think a lot of my time is still spent living in it now, even though I'm gone, even though I've grown. My second home was the ideal drop-in spot--all my friends were always welcome on my front porch at anytime, my backyard was the perfect setting for keg parties and flip cup games on rainy nights (thanks to our roofed patio). My current home welcomed me from the start--small and cozy, with neighbours so typical of picture perfect suburban life it makes me tingle with warmth at the very thought. An image of my daily witnesses pops in my head: grandparents taking their kids to school, young guys washing their cars and dirt bikes, everyone gathering at the white plastic table and chairs on warm summer, spring and fall evenings, placed strategically on their front yard, paved just for that reason, to welcome any and all of their neighbouring home owners.

I am naturally a home body, my horoscope even says so, so alot of sentiment is held in my home life for me. And that is all-encompassing--from the actual structure, to the lot surrounding it, to the neighbours, to the landscaping on the yard, to the trees that line the curbs, to the feeling I get when I round the corner, turn on my street and unlock my door. For my whole life, home always been a suburb. My childhood memories are comprised of annual block parties, bike riding adventures, street sports, convenience store runs, gossiping owners of corner pizza joints, walking to school and home without a guardian. My current days are full of comforting familiarity--seeing the same people at the gym everyday, the regulars at work, cashing out with the same person daily at Fortino's, having that instant camaraderie whenever you meet a fellow life has always been in suburbia, and I don't think I could ever leave.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Looking for a bridge over flooded waters...

Sometimes I feel like I am living in a world where I am constantly standing in flooded waters. Why is it that everything always seems so over done, so many times repeated?

Maybe it is the universe that I'm choosing to immerse myself in right now, but it seems to me like the creative arts job market is becoming more and more popular with each passing day.  There is no such thing as being arts-minded or inclined anymore. Both print and online resources make any skill accesible to anyone willing to put in the research time and work effort. With a promotion of expressing your personality so evident--from blogging, to Facebook profiles, to Twitter and all the way down to personalized desktop backgrounds and cell phone skins--the pressure is on for everyone to stand out, in their own unique creative way. What does this mean? For one thing, a world with a lot less black and white (which, for a colour junkie like me, seems like not such a bad thing). But on the other hand, it also makes jumping into the world of writing seem beyond daunting....making me feel too old while also making me feel too a naiive little girl with too many questions to ask and not enough answers to give.

Learning the ropes of a new field is both exciting, for a curious mind, yet exhausting, for the mind of a self-diagnosed sufferer of ADD. So much information is available at our finger tips...but what do we do with it? What is important enough for us to absorb, and what should we let trickle out our opposite ear? What may be new and exciting and world changing for me, may be old news to the rest of the world. How do I make myself interesting to read while supplying information that is both knowledgable and relevant for both educated and uneducated minds in my particular field of interest?

By the same token, this is not the case for arts careers only. I think about professional fields like law, medicine and teaching especially, where the extra schooling replaces the unpaid internships but still does not gaurentee you a secure job position once you've been handed your diploma. Gone are the days when education put you a step ahead. Here are the days of doubled student loans courtesy of unemployment and brutal interest rates.

So as I begin my journey, I look for inspiration in everything and everyone. Recent advice from several people has always been the same: write, write write and do some reading and write some more. I am particularly reminded of my good friends LC and EC, and my mom, who have given up so much of their time in devotion to the passion for their future. LC, with her countless volunteer hours spent in classrooms, with high school teams, in the basements of churches teaching catecism classes, and so much more I'm sure I'm unaware of. And EC with her absurdly impressive writing resume which I am both envious and so very proud of. And of course, my mom, who miraculously managed to work full time, go back to get her BA, go to teacher's college, and still always manage to have lunches made, dinner ready and clothes ironed for us on a daily basis. What has this landed them, you ask? An acceptance letter from every teacher's college school of choice, a brand new career as editorial assistant at a Rogers magazine, and a career title change from underappreciated office manager to many student's (at many different schools) supply teacher of choice. And so I will try to emulate their success with their same persistance and perservance.  And despite my recent lack of effort on the blogging part, I will write until my fingers bleed and my laptop battery dies.