Pretty Girls Need To Play By The Rules…

Photography by Dylaina Gollub Photography
Photography by Dylaina Gollub Photography

“With your figure, you can’t wear that for Halloween. If you weren’t so pretty, and you had a different body type, you could get away with it. But because you’re gorgeous, this outfit is probably too tight.”

So I understand that I work in a system that doesn’t allow me to do anything that may be seen as sexual by anyone (because showing that an adult has any sort of sexuality is inappropriate for teenagers. It’s best we just teach them abstinence and shame them for any sexual exploration or acknowledgement *insert eye roll here*), but the above quote was NOT what I was expecting to hear when I showed a co-worker that I might be a sailor pin up for Halloween. I’ve worn the top and bottoms in this picture separately to work before, and if anyone ever had an issue with it, I’ve certainly never heard about it.

I am so frustrated with hiding my body because I’m fit, with some curves, and have a nice face. As many of you know, I have a history of depression, bulimia, self-harm, and self-image issues. HOW DARE SOMEONE shame me for being fully clothed, finally confident in tighter clothes, and for being pretty. Since when does “gorgeous”, as was said above, equal inappropriate? Since when does “gorgeous” mean different rules? If I were overweight with a different face, and not a “typically attractive” person, I could wear what I want?

I don’t agree with it, but I could understand if this outfit was deemed inappropriate for my workplace due to the tightness of the clothing. But for it to be said that it is inappropriate because of my body is absolutely ridiculous. I can’t help the way I look. I love working out and, damn it, I’m proud of my figure.

Also, what message is this sending the teenagers that I work with? Due to circumstances outside of your control, you must follow different rules than your peers. How ridiculous. Yes, all of your body parts are covered, but you have a killer figure, and you really need to wear baggy clothes, so that people don’t find you attractive. But, yes, Sally, you’re a bit bigger and your eyes are a little too wide apart, so you go ahead and wear whatever you want. Seriously?

Maybe I should be a scuba diver for Halloween and wear a wet suit and flippers…Or is the wet suit too tight?

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“Teach Me Your Ways” – How To #MealPrepMonday

Happy Tuesday!

I’ve had a quite a few questions about my meal prep and the food I eat during the week, so I thought I’d do a basic run down of how and what I meal prep.

Why meal prep?
During the week, I am so busy between work, meetings, appointments, work outs, ‘me’ time, and ‘us’ time, that if I don’t have readily accessible foods in the fridge, I’ll most likely order take out, go through a drive thru, or make quick and easy meals like boiled perogies or pasta (mmm…carbs). In the morning as I’m heading out the door, I take about 3 minutes to take my supplements, make Keurig coffee, and throw a few tupperware containers with the day’s food in a reusable bag. Meal prepping on Sunday sets me up for an effortlessly healthy week.

If I plan all of my meals/snacks at the beginning of the week, I’m also less likely to deviate from the plan and make unhealthy food choices. I totally believe in balance, and I am quite indulgent at times, but a general plan of lean, clean, and green foods helps to keep me healthy and happy.

General Info: 
I always start by planning every meal and snack for the week either in My Fitness Pal on my phone, or in a notebook. I have my week start on Monday and end on Sunday. If I am being stricter with my nutrition, I use My Fitness Pal to plan my meals based on calories, protein, carbs, fibre, and fat, and generally eat breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. When I’m not working toward a specific goal and am just maintaining my weight, I plan my meals with the basic template of breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner. *

When it comes to meal prep, the less I have to do, the better. So I plan foods and recipes that will make 4-6 servings for breakfasts and lunches, and recipes that make 4-6 servings for dinners (I cook for myself and my boyfriend for dinner, so a 4 serving dinner lasts us 2 days). When I look for recipes I look for meals that are high in lean protein, low in dairy and grains, and high in fruits and veggies. (Note: for personal dietary reasons, I’ve cut dairy almost entirely out of my regular diet, and that will be reflected in the recipes below).

I spend entirely too much time on Pinterest, so most of my recipes come from there. I do also use recipes from Tone It Up and Whole 30 quite often. Almost all of the recipes I use are really easy. If they’re more involved, I only plan to use them when I know I’ll have time to make them, and they’re usually do good that they’re worth the extra effort.

I usually make a grocery list and go grocery shopping on Sunday morning/early afternoon, and then spend 3-5 hours cooking and portioning food. It does take a long time, and it does require a lot of tupperware and dishwashing. But it is so worth it! Just throw your iTunes on shuffle, and bop around your kitchen while you cook up a storm! By the end of meal prep on Sundays, I usually have 5 containers of breakfast for the week, 5 containers of lunch for the week, one or two dinner recipes made and in tupperware, fruits and veggies washed and prepped for other dinners and snacks during the week, snacks portioned, and lemon cut up for waters during the week.

Breakfasts:
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I love sweet, and I love savory, and I love a good breakfast to start my day off on the right foot. I plan breakfasts that are high in protein (breakfast typically follows a cardio and strength training workout for me), fruity, and filled with complex carbs.

Some of my favourite breakfast recipes are:

  • Triple Berry Overnight Oats (1/2 cup dry oatmeal, 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1 tbsp. black chia seeds, 1 tbsp. honey or agave nectar, 3/4 cup frozen mixed berries; keeps in the refrigerator for 3 days)
  • Blueberry Protein Bars (Tone It Up)
  • Green Juice (1 apple, ginger, 1/2 cucumber, handful of kale, handful of spinach, handful of fresh parsley, 1/2 lemon, hemp hearts; keeps in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for 3 days)
  • Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies
  • Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies
  • Protein Pancakes (2 eggs, 1 mashed banana, 1 scoop Vega Protein Powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract –> add nuts, raisins, or fruit on top or in batter to flavour)

Lunch
By lunch time, I’m usually definitely ready to eat something. I need my lunches to be satisfying, but light, and not require any heating up. I usually go for some type of salad, be it spinach, green leaf, chopped, or quinoa.

Here’s a few of my go-to’s:

Dinner:
Dinner is always the most fun meal for me to make. Dinnertime seems to offer so many more choices than other meals. I like a variety of different lean meats and vegetarian dishes, but my boyfriend isn’t a huge fan of meals that don’t have chicken in them. We rarely eat red meat, and he doesn’t eat seafood, so chicken breast is out go-to. I look for recipes high in protein, high in veggies, and low/moderate in complex carbs, fruit, and dairy.

A few of our favourites are:

Snacks:
Snacks need to be high in protein, but low in calories for me. Mid-morning snacks, when I have them, are usually one serving of fruit.

Afternoon snack ideas:

  • Kind granola bars
  • Thirsty Buddha Coconut Water
  • peppers and hummus
  • Protein Smoothie (Vega Protein Powder, unsweetened almond milk, ice)
  • 1/4 cup almonds & 1/4 raisins
  • Wasa crackers with mashed avocado, shrimp & chilli powder

 

Meal prep prep looks different for everyone, but this is how it works for me. Not all recipes I’ve tried have turned out, and not all recipes have been as delicious as I had hoped. But it’s fun to try new recipes and expand your cooking repertoire!

 

If this post was helpful for you, please Let me me know how your meal prep goes!

 

*I typically burn 200-300 calories during my morning work out when I’m using My Fitness Pal and being stricter with my routine, so I eat between 1400-1500 calories, and make sure I’m within 10 g of my protein, carbs, fibre, and fat daily goals. When I’m just maintaining, I don’t pay attention to any of those things, and just focus on eating lean, whole foods.

An Honest Look At My Fitness Journey

*Originally posted on March 15, 2015*

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This couldn’t be more true.

Since January 1st, I have rededicated myself to a healthy lifestyle. If you follow me on Instagram (@mykaleidoscopesoul), then you have most likely seen posts of the food that I’m eating, the workouts that I’m doing, and before & after progress pictures. I’ve lost about a pant size since January, and am currently the smallest I’ve ever been. Well, actually, I was this small once before, but quickly jumped back up. There are no clothes in my closet that are too small, waiting for me to fit into them again, and I’m planning a small shopping spree next week because I don’t have a lot of Spring and Summer clothes. Why? Because I’ve never liked Spring and Summer clothes before. If you have any bit of a stomach, you know the pain of wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You don’t do it, ‘cause there will absolutely be a stomach roll protruding under that shirt, so cardigans become your best Spring friend.

People keep asking what I’m doing to be fit and healthy, because I’ve lost quite a bit of weight in the last 3 years, and made a lot of progress in the last 3 months. And I will get to that in a minute. But before I get to that, I think it’s important to talk about my journey to getting here. Because it has not been as picture perfect as my Instagram account.

I have spoken before about how I felt round growing up. A lot of people tell me I wasn’t that round, but I remember boys telling me that I jiggled in all the wrong places, being called Shamu, being compared to the size of a submarine, and my PE teacher telling me I didn’t have the body type for gymnastics, so I didn’t have to take part in all of the activities of our gymnastics unit. Maybe he was trying to be helpful. But it was a way of excluding me because of my size, and that did not go unnoticed. I was a high-achieving, high-stress person, and I loved sweatshirts and jeans. You can be round inside those big sweatshirts, and nobody can see your rolls.

I was 13 the first time I threw up my food on purpose. I was at a friend’s birthday party, and everyone was having fun, boys were flirting with girls, and I felt huge. Prior to this, I had been thinking about binging and purging, and became very sick one night. Food poisoning or something. I remember both of my parents coming into the bathroom as I was throwing up in the middle of the night, asking if I was okay. And I remember saying I was okay, and being so confused about how relieved I was to be getting rid of those calories, and I didn’t even have to make myself do it.

Between January of Grade 8 and December of Grade 10, I binged and purged off and on. Never enough to actually lose weight and make it noticeable, but enough that I considered myself bulimic. While it was connected to my desire to be thin, it was also a way of gaining control for me. I was a busy kid. I was in every extra-curricular (except for sports, because I jiggled there and wasn’t that great at sports and girls are mean), and I placed a lot of pressure on myself academically. To this day I don’t know where my need to people-please comes from, as my parents were happy with us being happy, and never asked for more from us. But my world often felt out of control, and I often felt like I wasn’t doing enough, like I wasn’t good enough, and like the only thing missing from my life was a  boyfriend. And, in my teenage mind, boys didn’t like fat girls. So I threw up my food, and it felt like an instant relief. It’s a weird feeling to describe; not many people understand. And thank God. Hopefully that means not many people feel compelled to hurt themselves to gain control.

In December of Grade 10 a friend of mine told me that if I didn’t tell someone and get help, she would. So I told my favourite teacher. And then I told my mom. And then I had to talk to the school counsellor. And then more of my friends knew. And I felt like I had people to hold me accountable, and who would support me when I needed it. And I stopped.

I started to work more on fitness and healthier eating. And that became an obsession. Missing a workout was not okay to me. It could be 10:00 at night, and I had to be up at 6am, and I’d still be doing homework, and I’d cry because I didn’t know if I could do my workout that night. Spontaneous pizza or McDonald’s runs caused anxiety. I wasn’t throwing up my food anymore, but I wasn’t in a healthier mind-set, either.

Then I’m not sure what happened. After high school I stayed relatively fit through dance and my new found love for running, but binging and purging came into my life again around the age of 20 or 21. I was in a destructive relationship, and I needed that feeling of self-control again.

2011 was a year of self-healing for me. No more boyfriend meant a time for me to rebuild myself. I started to work out and eat healthier foods, and I felt really good about myself. In November of 2011 I met my current boyfriend. He made me feel beautiful, smart, funny, and worth it. And he had a history of dating plus-sized women, which made me feel more comfortable and accepted. In March of 2012, I felt great about everything in my life. But I had gained some weight again, so I decided to start Weight Watchers. On Weight Watchers I lost 30 lbs., finally hitting “goal weight” in June 2013. I was about a size 6. Since then, I’ve been working on maintaining my weight through exercise and healthy foods, and have stayed within a one-size fluctuation. My self-image has changed drastically. And I’m not sure if that’s because I have lost weight, or if that’s because I grew up a bit, or a mixture of both. But even when I do have a bit of extra weight, I don’t obsess, I don’t cry, I just acknowledge it and either keep making unhealthy choices (hello, Christmas time), or acknowledge it and make a plan for a healthier future (hello, New Year’s time).

When I start to feel like fitness and healthy eating are becoming an obsession for me again, I stop, and force myself to eat pizza. That might sound stupid, but that’s what works for me. It’s unhealthy food, and it’s okay. I still need to remind myself of that sometimes.

I’ve met a lot of resistance with my healthy lifestyle. People get frustrated ‘cause I don’t want to eat a piece of their chocolate, or I choose a salad, or whatever. I’ve been scoffed at and asked, “Why do you need to exercise?” or “You look fine. Just eat whatever.” It’s a challenge that’s moved from comments about me being overweight, to comments about me being thinner. Let me tell you, body shaming happens no matter what you look like. So I’ve decided it’s best to just do you, and learn to bite your tongue.

So. There it is. Many people have asked me in the last few weeks about what I do to stay fit and healthy, and I’m going to answer that below, but it is SO important to know that it is not something that is easy. It is not something that I’ve always done. And it is not something that you need to do alone. Body image and health issues are so manipulated and it is so ingrained in us that we need to be beautiful, thin, and strong. I know that I often look that way. But we need to remember that someone’s Instagram or Facebook is only a construction of a very small part of them.

“How do you do it?!” Well…

Currently, I’m following Tone It Up. They post workouts every day that you can do with minimal equipment in your home (a few free weights and a kettlebell). I hate gyms. I feel like they’re judgey, and unnecessary, unless you’re lifting and training that way. Then they’re probably necessary. I wake up and am working out by 5:30 AM Monday to Friday, and do cardio and a bit of weight training (all from Tone It Up ‘cause it’s free and easy to do at home). It usually takes me about 30 to 45 minutes. I like waking up early to get that workout out of the way. Night time workouts do not work for me. But that’s just me.

I just started following the Tone It Up meal plan, but prior to the last 3 weeks, I had just been eating clean with recipes I found off of Pinterest. I meal plan the crap out of everything. I always have the next 2 weeks meal planned in a little notebook. That way, I know what I’m going to eat and there’s never a moment where I’m like, “Hmm…I’m hungry. What do I have at home?” Those moments = Tim Hortons, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. for me. Grocery shopping is also much easier. I eat 5 or 6 times a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack, and I track my calories on My Fitness Pal, an app on my phone. I suck at sticking to my suggested calorie intake. But my intentions are good haha

Sundays are spent grocery shopping and meal prepping. Sunday morning, our cupboard is filled with clean tupperware. Sunday night, our fridge is stocked with full tupperware. I make breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and sometimes we cut up veggies, etc. for whatever I’m making for dinner that week. I have a juicer and make a few days worth of juice (which is usually my morning snack).

I drink so much water it’s ridiculous. Never in my life have I had to pee so often.

I haven’t cut out any sort of food (except for chocolate, and only because I wanted to see how long I could do it, not for any sort of health reason. Just a little challenge I set out for myself. I’ve already planned all the chocolate I will eat when I give this thing up) I eat pizza, Chinese food, go for dinner and don’t order salads, I eat cake and pie, and I love a good glass of wine. If anything, I’ve learned how much it is about balance and consistency, and being live-able. So many healthy eating plans aren’t realistic forever. I think what I’m doing is realistic with my current schedule and where I am in my life. As I get busier, things might change, but it’s not something that I can’t easily come back to, or that I’ll gain weight back from. I don’t beat myself up for indulging once a week (which is basically what it’s worked out to), or twice a week (which, honestly, happens sometimes). I just pick back up the next day and make sure I’m consistent.

I don’t weigh myself anymore. I know I’m roughly 135 lbs., but I’m focusing on what I look like, and how my clothes feel. I was at Winner’s this week, and know I’m about a size 4 in multiple brands. But the clothes that fit me in my closet range from XS to Large, so I try not to take that too seriously. There is still that vain part of me that likes that I’m in a 4, and no longer a 12, but I’m trying to shut her up, and stop caring about that.

It is hard. Very hard. I don’t always like 5:30 am work outs. And I don’t always get up for them. I don’t always want to eat what I’ve planned for myself (and if it’s a new recipe, and it totally sucks, we throw it out and order sushi. Life’s too short to eat bad food). I don’t always meal prep as much as I wanted to on a Sunday.

Start with baby steps. Just plan healthier breakfasts. Aim for 3 workouts in the week. Then once you establish that, try adding more water, or a new healthy dinner. Baby steps are key.

It’s hard. But it’s doable. You need will power, the mindset that a healthy life means being imperfect and allowing life to happen and mess up your plans for workouts and healthy food, a support system, and the ability to forgive yourself and be kind to yourself. I’ve learned, through a long and hard journey, to love myself no matter what I look like, and to be kind to myself. And I think it’s the most important thing in the world for everyone else to learn, too. ❤

My Twenty-fifth Anniversary of Life

*Originally posted April 14, 2015*

Well. It’s here. The big 2-5. I know it’s not quite the big 3-0, but it’s still kind of a big deal. 25 is halfway to 50. It’s a quarter of a century. I’m old. People have been telling me all of these things that I am now too old for (crop tops and clubbing, for starters), but I’m simultaneously hearing, “You’re still so young!” And that got me thinking. While I do a damn convincing wine-sipping, blazer-and-heels-wearing yuppie impression, the 16 year-old teenybopper inside of me is constantly trying to make an appearance. At 24, it was still sort of acceptable and kind of cute and endearing to be 16 inside. But now? Tragic failure. Thus, I hereby vow to cease the following activities, effective the eve of my 25th birthday (maybe).

1. Keeping up with and using the newest slang terms. While my job is to work with teenagers and know what they are talking about, I do not need to use the words they are using. Ever. If anyone hears me say, “Your eyebrows are on fleek,” please feel free to remind me that words like that sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth, and I’m not a Drake-obsessed child.

2. Wearing inappropriate clothing at inappropriate times. Gone are the days of shopping in the Juniors section at Winners. What I used to deem “grown up, sophisticated going out clothes,” are now just ‘clothes.’ Goodbye, Forever 21. The witty graphic tee’s and weird patterns that once drew me in will now be best worn on someone who is actually 21. (Note: I reserve the right to wear whatever I want to dance class, and to wear crop tops when working out or at the beach. At least until I have children.)

3. Not listening to my body. Health is not something to take lightly, and it’s time I stop taking my health and my body for granted. When I think, “I should probably go to the doctor,” I will now go to the doctor. will not wait two weeks until the symptoms are worse and interfering with my ability to live my daily life.

4. Not saving money. While retail therapy, Starbucks, mani-pedi’s, and Kate Spade stationary is wonderful, preparing for your future is a pretty good idea. Remember back in the day when your parents told you to put 10% of your paycheque into savings? Yeah, it’s time to start doing that now.

5. Getting messy drunk. I know my limit. I’ve known my limit for at least five years now. At 25, there’s nothing funny about needing to be taken care of by your friends, or falling asleep beside a bucket. I’m not going to say this will never happen again, but it will definitely be limited to a MAXIMUM of one time a year. (Sidebar: I haven’t been messy drunk like that since my 21st birthday. The time I rapped the entire song 99 Problems by Jay-Z to “impress” my now-boyfriend, then-romantic-interest (December 2012) is a close second.)

6. Not competing with other women. By now, I am old enough to understand that nobody is perfect, everyone has insecurities, you can’t do it all, other people are awesome, and I am awesome, too. This quote is so true: “A flower does not think about competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.” Why compare yourself to others? It doesn’t help you get any better. Talking trash about someone is trashy. Working on your own goals is motivating. I’m not the competitive type, and it’s time I acknowledge the wonderful qualities in even my worst enemies, rather than hating them for them.

7. Being uninformed. Not knowing what is going on in the world is not acceptable anymore. Especially given my career choice. While I love my little Langley bubble, knowing which countries are in crisis, being informed on current social justice issues, and making it a habit of more-than-occasionally flipping through a newspaper or The Huffington Post is important. I especially vow to cease being ignorant when it comes to Canadian politics. My right to vote should be treated like a privilege, and I intend to stop taking it for granted.

8. Settling. I know what I like, what I want, and what I’m worth. No more bad part-time jobs “just for now,” that turn into ruts, no more eating bad food to be polite/to tide me over, no more toxic, dead-end relationships (friends, family, romantic), just no more. There’s living within your means, and there’s settling. The knock-off Michael Kohrs bag, living within your means. Never gaining any headway at work because you’re a “behind the scenes kind of person” (aka too afraid to stand out), that’s settling.

9. Taking so many damn selfies. I can’t promise I’ll stop entirely. But I willtone it down.

10. Not wearing a jacket. Yes, my outfit is fantastic. No, I do not need to freeze to death to show it off. I’ll invest in a good winter jacket, rain jacket, and windbreaker.

Credit: Kim Windyka (www.thoughtcatalog.com) inspiring me to write this, by writing her own list that was scarily relatable for me.

A Reflection On The Year/Why I Want To Be A Teacher

*Originally posted June 7, 2013*

I have wanted to be a teacher ever since about Grade 4 or 5.

When I was in Grade 4 and 5 my group of friends and I were particularly dramatic and horrible to one another and we had these horrendous fights on what seemed like a daily basis. Because we were such nasty 10-year-olds, we would often have to go see the school counsellor to use conflict resolution and work out whatever issues we had going on. I remember the counsellor telling us that we were experiencing issues very early; Grade 9 girls usually go through the kind of drama that we were experiencing at the age of 10. It. Was. Ridiculous.

The counsellor also helped us sort out our own issues that would arise from the group issues. One friend was unhappy with her home life and took to compulsively lying (I remember her making up this atrociously graphic story of how her grandmother was killed, only to find out that her grandmother was very much alive and she had just lied because she was bored.) I got to talk about how I was unhappy that I was so round. (I was a BIG kid in Grade 3 and 4.)

By the time the end of Grade 5 rolled around, I had decided that I definitely wanted to be a school counsellor when I grew up so that I could help people. They could come to me and talk and I could help them to feel better. I asked around and found out that I would need to become a normal teacher first before I could become a school counsellor. So I set my sights on getting whatever qualifications I needed to become a teacher.

Then I went to high school and found choir, yearbook, school dances, the volleyball team, and the cool teachers who treated you like you were an adult. And I decided that I definitely wanted to become a high school teacher when I grew up. I could teach kids and treat them like adults (maybe I could even occasionally swear and get away with it!), and I could volunteer to help with all of the extra-curricular activities (which were my favourite when I was actually attending high school). This sentiment has stuck with me ever since. I have gone to university and finished my degree in English and Sociology and am going to start my teaching program in the Fall.

However, I find that, even in the last 10 months, my reasons for wanting to teach high school have changed.

I began volunteering at a high school in September of last year with two of the best English teachers I have ever met. At the time, I thought that I would sit in their classrooms and watch them teach, I may occasionally help students with their work, and I would write on my application to teaching programs that I had volunteered in classrooms and it would be great. While I did do all of those things, I was lucky enough to get to experience so much more than that.

Both teachers allowed me to plan my own lessons and teach their classes. This experience alone exceeded my expectations and prepared me for teaching in a way that I didn’t even know that I needed. I learned that 1) Lesson planning is a lot of work and 2) kids don’t really care that you planned a whole lesson for them. Learning how to manage a class while also delivering all of the important knowledge that you have prepared to impart on them is not an easy task. Thankfully I got to practice with two of the best watching me and giving me feedback.

Another experience that I was fortunate enough to have was to actually getting to know the students and form personal relationships with them. When you take Education courses they tell you that you need to take an interest in the students’ lives and you need to connect with them on a personal level. Looking back, my favourite teachers all did that extremely well and that’s part of the reason I liked them so much. And I always intended on being a teacher who cared about what their students did outside of school. But I got a crash course in learning how to be involved in a student’s life and on being available to them for more than just help with school work.

Nothing could have prepared me for having to talk to an upset Grade 12 boy about how he is being bullied and is depressed.

Nothing could have prepared me for seeing an admission to self-harm while marking a student’s homework.

Nothing could have prepared me for seeing a student half stumble into class, disoriented and pale, seeing administration take him away assuming he’s high on something, only to find out (and much to his surprise as well) that he had a low blood sugar problem.

Nothing could have prepared me for having to sit with a Grade 12 boy as he found out that his close friend had passed away.

These were only some of the difficult and heartbreaking moments that I was experienced while I was volunteering this year. Luckily, I was being coached by someone and was not actually the one actually in charge who had to really deal with these issues. I was so fortunate to have to deal with the hard, impossible moments while, really, someone else was the one who had to deal with them and to have people who experienced the same moments who could talk me through them.

It has been wonderful to see these students overcome and deal with the horrible events and emotions that they’ve been through. Knowing that these students go through so much makes it that much better to see them having a good time with their friends and joking around with me. It’s even better to know that they’re going off to university and getting to start a very exciting part of their lives!

There were also fantastic moments that I was fortunate enough to be a part of that changed my motivation to become a high school teacher.

Watching a student give an impromptu lesson on satire to his entire class was something that I did not expect to see, and it made my day.

Helping a Grade 8 girl study for an English exam would not have been on my list of fun things to do…until I did it.

Hearing students say, “Ohhh…I get it now!”

Being asked to sign a student’s yearbook for the first time made me feel like I actually made a difference by being there.

I no longer want to teach because it seems like it would be fun to do. Don’t get me wrong, it absolutely will be fun and that is one of the reasons I am going to be a teacher. But now I want to teach because I get to be a part of people’s lives and I get to help them turn into adults, even if it’s just in a small way. I’ll be there for “ah ha!” moments. I’ll be there when there are cries for help. I’ll be there to talk about the movie that came out last week. I’ll be there to listen to the heartbreak, the bad joke, or the frustrated rants about high school. I’ll be there to say that it will be okay. I’ll be there to laugh at them when they do something stupid and say, “What were you thinking?!” I’ll be there to help them make the right choices. I’ll be there to hear about when they make the wrong choices. I’ll be there as an adult that is helping to shape them into the adults that they will one day be.

Volunteering this year has opened my eyes to what teaching is. It’s not just simply teaching them English or Social Studies. It’s realizing that, sometimes, Othello is not the most important thing in their lives. It’s understanding that a break up at 15 years old is the end of the world. It’s understanding that sometimes when you’re sitting with your best friend, it is impossible to stop the giggling. It’s everyday life stuff, crammed into one building with a bunch of teenagers.

I know that I’m not looking to make a difference in every kid’s life. I’m not expecting some cheesy movie moment where some kid thanks me for saving them. I’m just looking to experience the every day moments that slowly help a kid turn into an adult.

So thank you to the two amazing teachers that have guided me through one hell of a year of volunteering. Thank you to the two other amazing teachers at my other (unfortunately short-lived) schools. And thank you to all of the students that I’ve come across this year. You didn’t know it, but you were teaching me more than I could have asked for. It has been an absolute pleasure watching you develop from the nervous Grade 8s to the confident almost-Grade 9s, from the comfortable and bored Grade 10s to the cocky-but-not-too-cocky almost Grade-11s, and the lost and confused Grade 12s to the still lost and confused Grade 12s who are almost real adults. I have had the most amazing time with all of you and I can’t wait to start on the next part of my journey to becoming a high school teacher.

Anti-Slut-Shaming VS. Old-School Values

*Originally posted November 5, 2015*

I’m not into slut shaming, and I think women should empower each other, not disrespect each other. But a conversation I saw on Facebook about skinny-shaming, mixed with a conversation I overheard from some Grade 8s today made me think of all of these things.

A woman has a right to her own body, and to doing what she wants with it. This is a message that is everywhere right now. Boudoir, pin up, burlesque, and similar styles are really popular right now in photography and dance. I love them all. But I think there’s a huge difference between being a part of that scene in a classy way, and being a part of it in a trashy way. (Sidebar: if you have to tell people you are classy and confident, I think that’s a sign that you aren’t.) I know many people in the burlesque scene in Vancouver. Many of them post scantily clad photos on their FB and Instagram pages. That’s a huge part of their lives. But from what I know of their normal, everyday lives, they are not always this way. They wear sweatpants. They don’t always flirt with men. They respect themselves. And this is a key part that I think is missing from our subconscious education of young women: I think a woman who truly values herself for everything she is, no matter how much she “just loves love”, or how much she advocates for the right to embrace her sexuality, doesn’t feel the need to show everything, or share it with everyone. I think that people forget that nobody wants to conquer land that’s already been conquered, and no one feels special when everyone’s seen the VIP screening, if you know what I mean.

I think that this is a huge part of my problem with this.

I don’t think we teach young girls absorbing these images & messages to value their brains and to complement their personality with their body, and not just live for likes on Instagram. Girls see these images online and think that they should be like that in everyday life. And then they think that they need to follow through with the message that their image is sending. The way that women embrace their bodies and their sexuality is changing, and it’s not always easy to explain why being sexy and feeling empowered by your sexuality is great for a woman’s own self-esteem, apart from the feedback they receive online (“likes”)/from men. So while the love-your-body-anti-slut-shaming attitude is amazing, it’s lacking an essential piece: Love your body, do what you want with your body, and still value yourself enough to know that everything about you that is not visible to the eye is enough. I don’t know many women who I call confident and classy that also post half-naked pictures or sleep around. Maybe this is a coincidence. Maybe we’re just moving into a place in history where bodies are free.

Or maybe we aren’t teaching girls to love that part of themselves that won’t fade with time first. So they post Instagram pictures and hook up with people at parties. And then other females begin to slut-shame these women and girls who are simply regurgitating what they think being a confident, sexy, classy woman is.
I’m constantly surprised by how common sexual promiscuity is. Whatever happened to waiting for someone special? Where did these values come from? Why don’t we teach girls to value what they have enough to not give it to everyone (be it sex or Instagram pictures)? I think we are doing girls a disservice by not having these conversations with the images/messages out there. Will there ever be a place where we don’t slut-shame women, but we also empower women to take control of their sexuality in a way that shows they value it and treasure it?

I realize that my opinion is valuing yourself = not sleeping around/being half-naked, and that that is just my opinion. Many will disagree with me. But with other things you treasure, do you throw them around the way you do your body/sexuality? Do you use Grandma’s fine china every day? Do you let anyone you just kinda like use your phone? Do you flash all your money to strangers? Do you let everyone borrow your brand new car?

I have no answers. Just a  lot of questions.

You Can’t Go Back

*Originally posted August 28, 2014*

They say you can’t please everyone, so you should just be yourself. But there’s definitely a version of yourself that will please the most people possible, and I think that’s what people really mean when they tell you to “be yourself.”

I’m in this wonderfully awful place of not being an adult, and not being a child. I have finished school, and am entering a career where I am held to a high standard of professionalism. But I’m also a twenty-four-year-old woman-child who feels restless and exhilarated with every possibility I’m confronted with.

Woman-child me likes:
– dancing
– being flirtatious and seductive
– drinking a whole bottle of wine to myself
– wearing dramatic make-up
– driving too fast
– taking selfies
– dressing like a thug
– feeling to excess
– gossip
– bad movies and trashy novels
– staying up talking till 2 am
– being spontaneous and doing whatever I want

Grown-up me likes:
– reading news stories and discussing them
– routine and a schedule
– giving advice
– grocery shopping
– drinking a glass of wine with friends
– reading educational materials
– wearing professional clothes
– post-it notes and other stationary

I’m not in high school anymore. I’m not even in university anymore. Does that mean I suddenly have to be a real adult? Is being silly and weird offensive and immature now? Is there a way to make a compromise between all of the parts of my kaleidoscope soul? Can I still be a hip hop dancer at heart, wearing baggy sweats, high tops, and hats, while also being a responsible role model for children? Can I be proud of the 30 lbs. I lost and wear form fitting clothes, or (God forbid) crop tops, and still be a desirable addition to the work environment? Can I hold the view that women staying at home, cooking, cleaning, and making babies is a perfectly respectable and awesome life’s ambition, and not be frowned upon? Can I still dream of a perfect little life with the love of my life, or has that head-in-the-clouds attitude gotten old?

What are the rules now? I feel like half the people in my life are twenty-four going on forty-four, and half are twenty-four going on fourteen. I’m either struggling to feel intelligent and mature enough to take part in conversation, or looking at the clock wondering when I can leave the immature skinny-bitches I’m with. Is there no in-between? Where did my friends from when I was nineteen go? “You’re not 19 anymore…” Yeah, yeah, I know.

I miss the 2am teary phone calls to the one person who knew how I felt better than anyone else. I miss the way music so got me. I miss spontaneous drinking game nights. I miss 3am McDonald’s trips. I miss spending whole pay checks on clothes. I miss splitting a 2-6 of vodka with my best friend. But I want to live in my own place, with my own stuff. I want a grown-up woman’s professional wardrobe. I want babies. And a white picket fence. I want a 9-5 work schedule (or more like 6am-8pm, as my career will be). I want a promise of forever. I want financially smart decisions.

You can never go back. You can’t go back to the way things were, or to the people who were there for you. People evolve and leave your life, and your life changes. But going forward sounds so confining and stuffy. I just want to pause life. Just let me be twenty-four, working as a waitress and living at home, saving and spending money, making out with my boyfriend like a stupid teenager, feeling lost and excited and sad and overwhelmingly in love. Let me just be what I am right now without worrying about what that looks like to other people and having those perceptions mean huge ramifications for the rest of my life. Let me be a dancer again. Let me be a singer again. (There are people in my life who have never heard me sing. How weird is that?! At some point singing and making covers became this childish thing that I shouldn’t do and definitely shouldn’t post online for fear of who might see them.) Let me be all of the pieces of the kaleidoscope, and not just the ones that look best in public.