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

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.

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.

Glory and failure

Glory and failure

I make it a priority not to run for buses. Or trains in this case.

Maybe it’s because I have a crippling fear of failure. Running leaves me exposed.  If I run and don’t make it on time, it would’ve all been for nothing.

All that hope and energy wasted.

Maybe it’s because running reveals what horrible shape I am in. Is there a worse image than a person keeled over, huffing and puffing as the bus glides away? The look of despair in their eyes. Disappointment in their gasping breath.
They tried and failed.

But today, I ran and won. I wont even bother to be ambiguous about what propelled me.

Soccer. If I caught this train, I could make it home in time to watch most of the game.

Maybe that’s the difference between an athlete running for the net and a person trying to catch a bus. An athlete upon seeing the goal line is fueled with every inch to persevere. The train-chaser too I suppose. What awaits the athlete on the other side of the pitch? Glory …and failure. But they never hesitate to run.

Drenched and gasping for breath, I never thought I could find glory on the inside of a train. But catching this train felt like a victory to me.

And I should also probably work out more.

I’m afraid of dogs

I’m afraid of dogs

I just got chased by a dog.

A small, aggressive fiend who was hungry for my flesh. It’s true. What started as a familiar walk to the mailbox, ended in the most terrifying 30 seconds of my life.

I’ll admit, it was a small dog. But it still ran after me: barking like a maniac and nipping at my ankles and everything. I kept walking and tried not to look back. I figured running was probably the worst thing I could do. So I just walked at a normal pace, resisting the urge to run. It had to go away right? It had to know I was not a threat.

But it didn’t leave. And I felt like an idiot for keeping this leisurely pace when every bone in my body was telling me to run.I cringed inside and started to panic. I stood up on my tippy toes and screamed — a nervous yelp. What was I doing wrong? I turned back to face the little devil in the eye. If fear was my perfume, I was drowning in it.

So yeah, if you’re animal lover, this is about the time when you conclude that I am a horrible person. But let me try to explain. I never really had pets growing up so I’ve been known to get a little tense when a dog is in the room. I don’t hate dogs. I just don’t get them. And that makes me anxious. So please take this post as a the questionings of a animal-ignorant, slightly overdramatic human, curious for some answers.

For most of my life, I’ve denied that I truly have a fear of dogs. But dog-owners can smell fear just as quickly as their furry friends can. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard the following well-intentioned suggestions:

“Don’t worry, he doesn’t bite.”

“She’s a friendly dog.”

“You know they can smell fear right?”

“Just push him away and he won’t bother you.”

I have never found comfort in any of these words. The main reason being that I have little to no understanding of the relationship between a dog and its owner. I mean, obviously your dog loves you, but why would he trust me? Isn’t he supposed to protect you? If I pet him the wrong way, could he go into attack mode? What if he jumps on me? What do I do?!

All of this sounds like nonsense to an animal-lover. I find pets, and the relationships they have with their owners so fascinating. How can you trust each other so easily? Part of me wishes I could understand or experience it on my own. But I’m stuck with a black blot on my heart, in the shape of what I assume is a puppy.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about dogs a lot. I would like to have one some day. I’ve been making some good progress. But today, I feel like all of it has gone down the drain.

Oh, and about that dog that chased me? An older European lady came to my rescue. “He no bite,” she assured me, shaking her head. I did as I usually do in awkward situations, smile — and laugh. And I turned right around, my heart pounding in my chest and skipped up the steps to my house.

The first thing I did was google what to do when a dog chases after you.

Texting on the run

Texting on the run

“Check texts on the run.” —said a Samsung smart watch ad.

“Wait — what?” I did a double take. The young, fit jogger on the poster smiled at me. I realized that this was more than just a clever pun. Samsung was actually trying to sell me a smart watch by telling me it would make it easier for me to check my texts while running. Pfft, as if I even exercise on a regular basis. And when I do choose to exercise, running is definitely not in my routine.

But to all the spirited runners out there, do you really wish you could check your texts during your morning jog? Is this actually a desire that’s been burning inside of you?

I’m going to take a guess here and say no.

“So Samsung, why do you think this would work?” The woman on the poster keeps smiling. I’m not sure what she would say to me if she could talk.

“It’s convenient.”

“Now, you can be connected even when it’s incredibly inconvenient.”

“Haven’t you always wanted something to stare at while waiting for the light to change?”

I laugh. Nice one, Samsung. Technology is supposed to make things easier right? Even when it doesn’t always make sense.

 

Attached to the Screen

Attached to the Screen

It is ironic that the first thing I do when I get home after staring at a screen all day is:

1) Turn on the computer

2) Check my phone (which I’ve already been doing on the commute)

3) Check my email and Facebook

By the end of my work day, my head is literally pounding from the screen glare. My eyes can barely stay open. But by some freak of nature, the second I walk out of there, I crave technology.

I don’t know if that means I’m sick or enslaved.

I’d like to think that technology at work and technology at home are two totally different things. At least, psychologically. I feel better sitting on my couch, typing away on my laptop. But then again, I guess you wouldn’t feel that great after gawking at a screen for five hours straight no matter where you are.

At home, I get to do what I want online, with no pressure. At work, well, besides trying to absorb every tweet and post in every feed and, hatching new creative ideas, my brain is overloaded. It’s a wonder it hasn’t crashed sooner.

Still, could I re-wire it to last longer? Or is this more destructive than restorative?

What’s the first thing you do when you get home?