The Magical Place

The Magical Place

Two days ago, I stumbled upon the most magical place. There’s a park close to where I intern in downtown Toronto where I often go for walks. I turned off the main path for a moment, away from the hustle and bustle of the street and found mother nature’s niche: a wide plain carpeted in yellow autumn leaves and guarded by three large maple trees. 

I was immediately enchanted. I tried my best to capture it with my phone but it didn’t do it justice. So I planned to go back the next day, better prepared.

In the morning, I got ready intentionally for my trip to the magical place. I picked a bright red shirt to contrast the carpet of yellow autumn leaves. I packed my camera and a berry lipstick. 

The time finally came during my lunch break. I was so excited. The sun was radiant. The air was crisp but tepid. I was feeling adventurous. I ordered food from a burrito place I’d never been too and planned to eat it under one of the huge maple trees in the magical place.

But then I walked out from the restaurant with someone else’s burrito. I swear it was an honest mistake. Same order, wrong number. I grabbed it after a short 2 minute wait and confidently walked out the door. Nobody even flinched. Nobody stopped me. By the time I had realized what I’d done, I was already half way down the street. Oh well, this just added to my adventure.

I made my way to the magical place, retracing yesterday’s steps. There were some people walking through the area, but it didn’t matter as long as they kept moving. I had to eat before I started taking pictures anyways.

But out of the corner of my eye, I spotted an offbeat character. I can still remember him so clearly: a tall, older, white male with pale blue jeans and a black hat. He zigzagged through the magical place at an awkward pace until, he reached the back bushes, placed his hands in front of his waist, and stood perfectly still. Too still.

I hesitated. Was he…? And then I saw the gush of liquid.

He was pissing on the magical place.

I scurried away, disgusted and in shock. I had to find a place to sit and eat my stolen burrito that was as far away as possible from this horrible man. But everything looked so dirty. Who had slept on that park bench? What animal had peed by that picnic table?

I finally sat down on an empty bench. At least there was still lunch to comfort me. I unwrapped the burrito from it’s packaging and took my first bite into mystery. Turns out it’s original owner had a similar palette to mine. But I couldn’t help nitpicking at every little thing inside. It was alright I guess but it wasn’t mine. I stomached most of it and threw out the rest.

My thought was to go home, write about this strange experience and end with the life lesson: the world is never a magical place. Or maybe something about karma. If I had turned back to return that burrito, I would’ve never see that man pissing in the magical place. I would’ve never known and it would still be magical.

But instead I chose to end it by going back to the magical place and taking pictures anyways. Maybe not as liberally as I had originally intended. With new found wisdom, I didn’t lie down on the ground or sit by the huge tree. I captured it the way an admirer would. And it was well worth it. 

The world is not a magical place, and it’s important to remember that. But it is beautiful. Don’t let anything stop you from appreciating it.

The Magical Place

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To Makeup or Not?

To Makeup or Not?

Now and then, someone will ask me why I don’t where makeup, and I consider it a subtle comment on my appearance. A little blush might bring some colour to my skin. A bit of eyeliner will make me look more mature. Some mascara will make my eyes pop.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve never woken up and had a problem with the paleness of my skin, the dark circles under my eyes or the dull rose of my lips. On days like these, my habit has always been to dislike my genetics, instead of running to my makeup bag. Makeup has always been a secondary solution. Sometimes it helps, and at other times, it only adds to my despair. On days like these, I see makeup as mere filler for my faults.

I’ve heard it said that the ultimate purpose of makeup is to enhance your natural beauty, not cover it up and, I have to agree. Makeup can be a lot of fun. It can make you feel confident and beautiful. In some cases, it could even be considered art. I love what makeup can do for my appearance and my self-esteem. But my issue lies in the inevitable reliance on this “upgraded” image.

If wearing makeup leads me to feel dissatisfied with my natural face, than I’d rather not wear it all. I don’t want to roll out of bed, look in the mirror and see a tired, pale face looking back. I want to see me, with all my God-given colour, pout and eyelash length. The moment I begin to value my done-up face over my natural one, I’m wearing makeup for the wrong reasons.

Women look different with and without makeup. We shouldn’t have keep up one, like a mask, over the other. There isn’t room in this world for two of me: the one with makeup and the one without.

I will wear makeup when I want to, because I want to. Not because I feel pressured too.

The Fan Girl in All of Us

The Fan Girl in All of Us

The Big Apple had landed. New York City in Toronto. Storefronts were changed. Street signs were taken down. NY-style subways were planted on the sidewalk.

Oh, the intrigue of a film set. Like a forbidden paradise of trailers and wires and jaded crew folk. But if you look closely, you just might find a rare species amongst the lighting equipment.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what was being filmed: Beauty and Beast, the television show which stars Kristin Kreuk (or as I know her, Lana Lang from Smallville).

My brain made the connection instantly. Kristin Kreuk, the woman who formed a huge part of my Smallville-obsessed high school angst, was just a block away from me. I suddenly felt an impulse to catch a glimpse of her. So I sauntered over to the film set to the tune of Remy Zero’s Save Me.

The scene was extraordinary: the director yelled action. A crew of planted cars, including some New York taxis, drove by. And petite Ms. Kreuk, stepped off the sidewalk and raised her arm as if to hail a cab. Cut. It’s understandable why this pivotal scene justified the disruption of a busy city street.

Step by step by step, I made my way to the celebrity. At just the precise moment, when I was passing by where I thought she was standing, I looked to my left and there she was, nestled amongst the cameras, staring straight at me. My heart lept. I smiled and kept walking.

And for the rest of the day, I could think of nothing else but the moment when our eyes met. She was real. She was…human. And she looked exactly like she did on TV. She was tiny and beautiful.

My thoughts were immediately flooded with giddy euphoria. But the more I thought about our small, meaningless interaction, the more I doubted it. It drew me to a state of anxiety. Should I have said hi? Could I have asked for a picture? Either of those ideas both excited and terrified me. Oh no, I could never. Though I wanted to talk to her, I struggled to think of anything meaningful to say. Though I wanted to take a picture with her, I didn’t want to invade her personal space. I wasn’t a creepy fan girl.

And there it was, the creature living inside of me all along: the fan girl. In an instant of spotting a celebrity, I lost all sense of the maturity I’ve worked so hard to convey. What remained were giggles and this nagging desire to get as close as I possibly could.

What was it about Ms. Kreuk that reduced me to this irrational state? She is nothing but a character to me. I don’t know anything about her except the roles she’s played. And I’m absolutely nothing to her. I went home that day and continued my life just as usual. Meeting Kristin Kreuk wouldn’t have made any difference unless she offered me a job or a date with Tom Welling.

When I focused on this truth, although my bubble burst, I returned to reality. I can admire an actor’s work and persona, while acknowledging that my existence runs parallel to them. Sometimes my path might cross with some rich, popular person, and it doesn’t matter if I stop to talk, or keep on walking. We both move forward. Perhaps this is the cure to keeping the fan girl at bay.

 

I have hair on my legs

I have hair on my legs

I have hair on my legs. So what.

I wasn’t alive when the world decided women had to be hairless creatures in order to be accepted into mainstream society. I’ve often wondered just how this became the norm.

I’ve seen women shame themselves over leaving millimetres of unkempt hair on their legs. Women who shave as obsessively as they brush their teeth. And it doesn’t stop at legs. Arms. Backs. Fingers. Toes. …..other regions.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not calling for all women to stop shaving. If you want to shave your whole body, go ahead. Smooth skin feels great. But I should have the liberty to wear shorts in 38 degree weather and not care about the half a centimetre of hair on my legs. Obviously, in my mind, I have a knack for attracting judging eyes and pointing fingers.

My long-suppressed turmoil with this issue inspired me to reach out to another woman in my life to ask what her relationship with hair removal was like.

My co-worker, Jonsaba, only started shaving recently in her twenties. She never cared about it before but once she started, she discovered that shaving was a double-edged razor. It made her feel more feminine while at the same time making her feel more insecure about her body hair.

“Hair is very political,” says Jonsaba. “When we see a woman who doesn’t shave or has underarm hair, it’s like whoa. It’s rare for us. And we judge them. Oh, they’re feminists. Oh, they’re one of those hippie women.”

Ok, so I’ll confess.  The other day, I said goodbye to friend and when she lifted her arms to hug me, I was shocked by the sight of her underarm hair. When I got home, I felt compelled to share this story with my mom and sister. I immediately began to come up with reasons as to why she would reveal her underarm hair like that. Maybe she’s a hippie feminist. Maybe she was hot. Maybe she doesn’t care who sees her underarm hair for half of an insignificant second of their lives. Maybe she trusted that another woman would be the last person to judge her for that. Yikes.

“For the most part, pop culture influences a lot of what we do in our daily lives,” says Jonsaba. “We see a lot of celebrity women. They’re all shaved. They look perfect. They have no hair. They look like they have nothing.”

They look like they never spent the countless hours pouring hot wax on their bodies that the rest of us do. In fact, the opposite is true. So maybe I won’t judge other women for for letting it grow, or choosing to get rid of it. How about we just do what we want to do, and move on to ending world hunger?

What’s your relationship like with hair removal?

Body knows best

Body knows best

I’ve started working out.

I’ll give you a moment to catch your breath. I can’t believe I would even type these words on to the screen. Do you know what I just did? I just committed myself to the world. It’s a long fall if I fail from here.

I spent the whole summer trying to motivate myself to exercise more and I just couldn’t do it. But something happened as the season started to wrap up. September always brings with it something new.

Since I’ve been out of school, there hasn’t really been anything to “new” for me in the Fall. Between my desire for change and the sparkle of September, I found a way.

This is my third week of working out 6 days a week. That sentence just blew my mind.

For the longest time, I’ve hated anything to do with the fitness industry. Gym membership? No thank you. Running? I’ve got bad knees. Sweat? Gross.

I’ve tried running, zumba, treadmill, kickboxing, and yoga. Although I enjoyed them, I was only willing to push myself to a minimal degree. I was terrified of losing control. Body aching, lungs gasping for breath, throat heaving, head pounding; that’s what working out looked like to me. It was a torture I didn’t want to endure.

Two weeks in, I can honestly say I’ve pushed myself harder than I ever have before, without losing control. If I was going to do this, I was going to do this my way. I was going to work hard, but I wasn’t going to scare myself because some ripped guy in a cardio video thinks he knows how hard my body can go.

I’ve gasped for breath. My throat has parched. My head has pounded. And boy, has my body ached. But all of it came with good energy. I refused to beat my body (and mind) into submission. I’ve done it because it’s logically the best possible thing I could do.

You know, once you get into this stuff, you start to think like they do. I find myself whispering motivational phrases to myself all day. You can do this. Focus. You will improve. Hang in there.

That ripped guy in the video can see straight into my soul. I push myself, but I go at my own pace. And I try a little harder each day.

What do I want?

What do I want?

Have you ever wanted to start over?

Hit refresh. Push restart. Click close and open up a new window.

I’ve been feeling this way for a while. It feels like it never really goes away. And it makes me wonder if maybe I’m the problem. Do I get bored too easily? Am I just so unsatisfied with all the good in my life? Or am I too lazy to actually take a risk?

New always involves risk. The amount depends on how much your willing to sacrifice.

I don’t know what I want. I just know I want something different.

I’m tired of chasing after the endless streams of information. I want to know everything. Yet, I know nothing.

It seems like life is one perpetual motion of dreaming and desire. And I don’t always get what I want. I don’t always chase what I want either. It’s so easy to get distracted by the things that don’t matter. The dead end job. Why can’t I just quit? The project I want to accomplish. Why can’t I just do them?

Maybe it’s all about the money. How can I get more and how can I save some?

And still, after years of wondering, I stand in the same spot. Where did money take me? Not to the edge of happiness. It’s only made me want more. It’s only suffocated me and cornered me and distracted me into making decisions that took me away from my original pursuit.

Rejection

Rejection

I’ve been rejected.

It’s heartbreak in the most business sense. I finally garnered up the courage to direct message a blogger that I admire, albeit undercover. I told them I admired their work, loved what they do, and wanted to swap internet tips. Then, like a girl asking a boy to love her, I asked the daunting question: Would you be interested?

I sat there, vulnerable and exposed, and waited.

I was sure they would say yes. How could such an incredible, smart, intelligent, upstanding person ever say no to such a polite and flattering request?

I guess it could’ve also seemed random and creepy. But I digress.

The blogger responded pretty quickly with a no. They tried to be funny about it. I appreciated their honesty.

But just like that, my relationship with them ended before it even began.

They always say, “Don’t meet your idols.” The sight of their flesh and bones will make them human to you. And human isn’t always a good thing. Well, in this magically inter-connected world, don’t message your idols on social media either. Attached to those fingertips on a keyboard are hands and arms and a body, just like yours. Just like in the physical realm, they are entitled to push you back into that small, dark and insignificant corner of the interwebs from where you came, from where I lay crying myself to sleep. Boo hoo. Welcome home.