Bouncing back

Life isn’t always fun. Some people have it easy, some have it harder, but whoever we are, we all face adversity, we all face things that make our knees bend a little. We all have our ways of getting back on our feet and continue our life as best as we can. Because isn’t it what life is? Just doing the best we can?

I’ve faced hard times in my life, much harder than some people could think. But I always bounced back and kept going. Sometimes it took me months before I was even able to get out of the house. But I’ve come to learn a few tips and tricks to help me get better faster.

And now I’ve had the “perfect” opportunity to test it all out: I got fired last week, but also got pyelonephritis (kidney infection).

These are things that can happen to anyone, at any given time. They happened to fall on my head the exact same time. Last week was not a good week for me. But I still accomplished so much more than I thought was possible.

First of all, let me disclaim something: I went to work Monday and Tuesday with the worst kidney pain I ever felt. I pushed through the pain and made sure I didn’t miss work. I thought it would go away by itself. I was taking Tylenol every 4 hours and the pain was manageable, so I thought it was muscular pain. I was fired Tuesday at the end of my shift.

So Wednesday morning, I decided to take things into my hands and headed to the ER. My kidney was hurting a lot. I also started making a list of things I had to take care of, now that I had some free time during the day. Calling a few places I had to call back, but they’re only ever open the same hours I worked. You know the drill. Well this was perfect time to take care of that.

I got my diagnosis, went and immediately went to business. Listed all I had to do. I also knew I had to get my budget organized, with no more paydays. Of course before even going to the ER, I had applied to Employment Insurance. Just in case. I didn’t plan on taking too long to get back to work, but we never know.

Bounce_Back_Lists

Now these are pinned to be always there. Every time I open up my laptop, these greet me. As you can see, I have a few bullet points that have been completed since the start of the list. I’ve added a few things also, as I think of something, I add it.

And here’s my method.

 

  •  Take some time to assess what is happening

It’s important to acknowledge that something unpleasing is happening. Whatever it is. Losing your job, receiving very bad health news, needing to get a new car because the one you had just stopped working… Whatever it is. It’s going to blow some negativity your way. Take a day or two to just vent, relax, re-energize yourself. Whatever it may be that helps you. Hike a mountain, take a bubble bath, meditate. Go out with friends and talk it over. There’s no good or bad answers to that. We’re all different, and the way we cope will be different for each person. But it’s important to take the time to NOT BE OKAY. Because it IS okay to not be okay. Be aware of the signs pointing towards a burn out or depression. Not being okay is good, but not being okay for too long might get you slipping right into that dark place you’re trying to avoid. If you need to cry, just cry. But also know when you need to stop crying. It’s not an easy thing to do; some people will take years before getting the right spot for them.

 

  • Make a list and prioritize

Something happened. Your heat boiler gave up, but you can’t just go to the store and buy a new one. Fine, what  do you do now? This is where listing is the best thing to do. You need to call a plumber. Perhaps a few, to get different opinions. Why did the boiler stop working? It was too old? Or was it because something is wrong with the plumbing? Once that is assessed, the list keeps going. Repair the damage, fix the boiler, buy a new one, whatever it is you need to do. Having that list will help put in perspective what you have to do and something that seemed impossible to go over will suddenly become those easier steps to do. That is also where the list differ for some. For example, my boyfriend and I operate on different systems.

I like using the sticky notes, make the list with bullet points and delete the line (while keeping the bullet) so I see that my list of things to do is getting shorter, sparser. Whereas my boyfriend prefers using an Excel sheet or any other grid program, make his list and cross out the item, while keeping it. Do whatever works for you. Again, there is no good or bad answers to this one.

 

  • Start working on that list

Don’t take too long getting started on your list. It will starts staring at you, you will feel guilt and just ignore it for too long. The faster you get to it, the faster it will be gone and you can move on to something else. Lingering in the bad spot is not good for your own mental health. And seeing that list staring back at you might get you overwhelmed if you don’t tackle it fast enough. Obviously, everybody has their own speed. And each task has its own requirements. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t checked something off your list in a day or so. It may happen to be a more time consuming or more complex thing that will require more time to be done.

 

  • Reward yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way. It’s important you keep focus on your own mental health. Hardships can take a toll on you. Take the time to do a thing that will make you happy. A candle lit dinner in the middle of the week, or a new book you’ve been considering getting at the store. Little things that will make you smile, and keep your spirits up. Because bouncing back is not easy. But in the end, once you bounce back, you shouldn’t be exhausted to the point where you’re back onto your knees. Then it becomes a vicious circle.

 

Bouncing back is part of life. Having tips and tricks helping us along the way can make it easier. What are your ways of bouncing back?

Advertisements

Some words will stay with you forever

There are people in your life that you will never forget. Some for good reasons, some for bad reasons. There are things that are told to you that will shape the person you will grow up to be.

 

My first grade teacher was one of them. Where I’m from, you learn to read in first grade. School starts in late August (usually between the 25th and 31st). By the end of November, 1997, I was done reading all the books we were supposed to read that year. They were supposed to be the easy, get familiar with words, type of books. I loved reading. I would read anything and everything I would get my hands on. I would spend hours and hours reading magazines, and cereal boxes.

Instead of being worried I was learning too fast for the class, or that I was not following instructions, my teacher found books better adapted to my learning speed. She found books that were meant for kids a little bit older than me, but but with easy enough stories that I wouldn’t have to wonder what the words meant.

She even suggested I selected my favorite words and read the definitions and descriptions in dictionaries. She kept feeding my hunger for words and you could see it was also translating into my writing skills. Now my handwriting was horrible, like every kid learning to write, but my vocabulary was above average.

I still have somewhere, in a box full of souvenirs, my final composition of Grade 1. We were supposed to write a story, in three or four sentences. Just to practice writing words, practice our letters, etc. Simple enough.

I wrote a page and a half.

They were all very short sentences. A few words at most, but they were all structured the right way, with the pronouns, verbs and all. It was the story of two shoes, two sisters. One of them fell down the stairs and the other was trying to find a way to get her back.

In the top right corner, I had my grade, I don’t remember exactly what it was, my memory blurred it out, as it is not what I focused most on.

In the left margin, in my teacher’s beautiful handwriting, was written “Keep feeding your imagination and you will do great things”.

 

Those words are still very clear in my mind. I can see the handwriting in my head, the way the letters were shaped. And the message it carried. Growing up, I was a bookworm. I always had one or two books in my school bag. If you were looking to talk to me, you had to check either the library, or the plumpest tree in the school yard in the summer, where I was siting, a book in my hands.

And when I was done reading the books I had brought to school, I would take out a notepad or a notebook and start writing. I always had a story in my head. In class, I would finish my work before teacher was done explaining what to do and I would whip out my book. I never had a teacher stop me from doing it. I had (mostly) good grades, I was doing my work, I was not disturbing the class.

If I had difficulties in a certain subject (usually math…), the teacher would bargain with me. Do these 3-4 extra exercises to make sure you understand and I will let you read your book until the end of class.

Now ten years after graduating high school, I cannot finish a book. I used to read through a Harry Potter book in 6 hours. I cannot even finish half of a two hundred something pages book without losing interest. My attention span went down tremendously. I’m still working on it. I used to love reading and now I feel like I almost dread it. I try to skip what I think is unimportant parts and end up missing important information and I get lost in the book and don’t understand what’s happening.

I can see it has affected my writing skills too. I have a harder time finishing what I have in mind, story-wise. It takes me 2 or 3 hours writing a blog post because I just cannot focus on it anymore. Now more than ever, my first grade teacher’s words resonate in my head.

Keep feeding your imagination

 

What is something you were told one day that still resonates to you? I’m curious to see what you have to tell me.

10 things that makes me happy, and why

November is the month where Americans take the time to be grateful and thankful for things, people and events that shaped their year. For us Canadian, it was back in October. But I still wanted to kick the Holidays with something that would be nice. So today, I want to make a list of 10 things that make me happy, and the reason why.

They are not listed from most to least or in any particular order. Just going through them as I think of them.

 

  • All 4 seasons

I live in a place where I can enjoy all four seasons; Spring where the trees come back to life, flowers bloom and animals wake from their slumber; Summer where the heat scorches, the rain is warm and kids are out of school; Fall/Autumn, where the leaves become red, orange or brown and start falling, the temperature cools down and people prepare themselves for the cold and of course; Winter, with the snow, the Holidays, the winter sports.

 

  • Coffee

Coffee makes me happy. I drink my coffee every single morning, it helps me start my day right. Not because of the caffeine waking me up, but more because I take the time to read the news while drinking my coffee. Or I will take the time to list the things I have to do for the day. My morning coffee is the moment I take the time to start my day with a slow, steady pace.

 

  • Halloween

Halloween is my favorite celebration of the year. I love decoration, giving out candy to kids and teens, dressing up… It’s the one day in the year where you can be anything or anyone you want, with no consequences/obligations. You want to be Wonder Woman? Go right ahead! You want to dress as a murderous, slimy doctor? Heck yeah! Live out your fantasies, and have fun. Also, Halloween decor is pretty much my daily decor, ha ha ha!

 

  • Family

My family is the most important thing to me. I would be no one without them. They will always come first and they will always be able to count on me. I don’t have a perfect family, oh no. Far from perfect. We’ve had our fall outs and more than our fair share of fights. But we are closely knit and I will always put them first.

 

  • Writing

Writing is my escape. I have a hard time expressing with my voice how I feel, what I’m thinking, etc. But when I have a pen or a keyboard in front of me, it becomes natural. It’s like my fingers are an extension of my soul. They know exactly what to type out or write. Whenever I’ve had to express something to people, I always wrote it out before saying it. But also, writing lets me live my fantasies. I always have story brewing in my mind, I always have something cooking up there. And I’ll write it down. Sometimes it becomes a short story. Sometimes it’s just a bunch of pages of an idea I had. Perhaps someday I will be able to actually sit down and truly write the story that’s been following me since I was a teenager. I’ve come to know my characters all by heart. Their personalities will even sometimes influence my thoughts.

 

  • Snow

There’s something magical about snow. Not just the first snow. The entire winter’s worth of snow. Winter is my favorite season and the biggest reason is snow. I love playing in the snow, building forts and snowmen. I love doing snowmobile and quad on the snow. Ice fishing. Snow shoeing. Skiing. Sliding down the mountain on tubes, tri-skis or plastic carpets. But I also love shoveling. 12 inches of snow fell the prior night? I’ll be up at 5 am shoveling the driveway and staircase. Blasting music in my ears, getting that workout in. And watching the snow fall is mesmerizing. I used to sit in front of the window and watch the snow fall for hours when I was a kid.

 

  • Music

Music helps quite my brain’s voice. You know that little voice that will always tell you what you don’t want to hear. It helps me calm down when I have severe anxiety attacks. When I’m happy, it makes me even happier and I’ll dance the day away. It helps me motivate myself to clean up. Music will accompany my day, every day. I cannot go through one day without listening to music.

 

  • Being in my late 20s

I am actually looking forward to being in my thirties. I’m not feeling like my life is slowly getting away from me. I’m actually excited to see what life has in store for me. I will be 28 in a couple months (after the Holidays) and I’m actually, genuinely, very excited to get older. The day we live in is very, very interesting. I am craving the knowledge, I am craving the learning experiences and I feel like as I get older, I understand things better,  I can relate to people better and I feel like I’m becoming a better person because of that.

 

  • Video Games

Video games hold a special place in my life. I’m terrible at them. Seriously, I have no talent. But they are so much fun, I enjoy the different communities it creates, I love seeing fans of different games get together and exchange information, knowledge and happiness towards the game the play. I love seeing people recreate costumes and characters from the game, see the passion that wakes in someone who has found a character that resonates to them.

 

  • Photography

Taking pictures has been part of my personality for so long. It helps me keep memories of the different moments of my life. It helps me remember better and worse times. It helps me evaluate where I am now. But it also makes me so happy to capture the happiness of others as well, the beauty of a landscape, the mesmerizing life of animals, etc. Photography is an art that I respect to the highest point. Not everyone can do it the right way. Every photographer will have a different set of skills. And it’s so interesting to see two people take the same photo, but there’s a different feeling coming out of the two images.

 

 

I hope you guys enjoyed these as much as I enjoyed writing about them. Also, tell me, what makes you happy?

Music 4 Cancer – Artists coming together for the fight

One of the biggest fights we have these days is the one against cancer, health wise. In Canada alone, cancer is responsible of 30 % of all deaths. 1 in 2 Canadians will be affected by a form of cancer in their life, and of that number, 1 in 4 will die from said cancer.

Research has been more and more advanced, there are now a few forms of cancer that are 100% treatable and patients have a much higher rate of survival than just 20 years ago. But the fight keeps on going. We should not (and hopefully will not) stop until all cancers are either treatable or eradicated. I’m dreaming big here, but go big or go home.

Back in 2010, two guys from Montreal, Canada, created the Music 4 Cancer charity. All proceeds go directly to cancer research. For the 8th year, they had a two days festival with punk/rock bands from all over the world come and play. Every single cent made by the festival, goes to the cancer funds. Everybody who works there is a volunteer. Some bands will take a massive salary cut to be on stage and perform. Some of them will even donate their cut to cancer. Everybody is doing it for the cause.

 

But why would they do that?

Everybody knows someone affected by cancer. Everybody has known someone who fought cancer, or fought it themselves. This is something that touches everybody.

img_20180915_213057976_burst000_cover_top.jpg

Let’s take the band Much The Same as and example. This punk rock band is from Chicago Illinois. In August 2017, Dan O’Gorman, guitarist, was diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. Abdomen cancer. Dan is a High School teacher during the day and a rockstar a few times a year while doing shows. He fought his cancer hard.

The battle was not always easy. He shared his fight with the fans over on the band’s Facebook page. His surgery to remove the tumor was pushed back 7 months. Seven. Months. It goes to say that this disease, this sickness is sneaky. It’s vile. But Dan never gave up.

In July 2018, he got his surgery and had his tumor removed. He got the equivalent of a cantaloupe removed from his abdomen. A freaking cantaloupe. That thing was in there, ravaging his body.

August 24th, 2018, he was declared Cancer Free. In remission.

img_20180915_214034773.jpg

I took this picture on September 15th. Just 1 year after he began chemo. 2 months after surgery. 1 month after being declared cancer free.

If this is not the face of happiness, I don’t know what is.

If this is not the face of hope, the face of a warrior, I don’t know what is. This is a fine example that all the research we’re doing, all that fight we are going through, it works. Our donations go somewhere. We make a difference. FOR REAL.

If you have the chance to, please donate. If you can’t afford it, volunteer your time during rallies, events and others. Even doing blood donations will make a difference. Every single bit counts.

I never thought I made a difference. I never thought that I, alone, could do something that mattered. But after seeing members of my family fight cancer, after seeing people I love fight with all their might, I am now convinced that whatever I do, I WILL make a difference. At least in people’s life.

 

I’m forever grateful to be healthy. I am lucky. Some others are not. And I will keep on giving my time, and my blood, to those who need a little luck in their life.

Challenge recap

When I first talked about the challenge with R, he went into it a little relunctantly. He wanted to make me happy, but you could see he didn’t really care. It was sort of a “What in the world is she making me do… again.” type of situation for him. But he did it.

And by the end of it, he was having fun. I think it made us a little closer on trusting each other for the little things. You don’t always think about it, but the clothes you wear that day are the first thing people will see when you walk into a room. I had to trust R with blind trust.

I’m lucky though. R has a very good sense of fashion, he knows what works well. Our styles are a little bit different, but he understands the requirements for my work outfits. I still wore clothes that represent me. I don’t buy clothes I hate. I don’t keep clothes I don’t really wear anymore, or I got tired of seeing. Also, my wardrobe is set in a way that someone cannot go wrong. I have black everything. Tops, bottoms and cardigans.

I have a few colorful skirts that R did not even approach that I do wear for work with a black top. I have a few colored shirts, as you have seen. They’re easy to match to any of my black bottoms. And if I ever want to pattern mix (Spoiler: I don’t.) it’s all colors that go well together with my colorful bottoms.

I’m lazy when it comes to picking my outfit. I just to grab whatever I see first, throw it on in the morning and be out for the day. That’s one of the major reasons why most of my clotehs are black. Also because I love black clothes a lot. At first, I thought this would make a difference in the whole thing. Maybe it was going to be too easy?

It wasn’t. R made bold choices with what I had. I do bring a bag of clothes over to his place, containing about two weeks worth of outfits. He was working with a limited selection of things. I have my ideas of what outfit works and what doesn’t. He has his own. And we seem to be on the same page quite a lot with it. Except for Thursday’s skirt. He loved it, I hated it because of the comfort factor.

No wonder why it had the lowest score of the week. I mean, when you look at it, it looks okay, but the shirt is way too “dressy” for the rest of the outfit. But I think it was the shoes that made it too casual. Again, that’s on my shoulders. I don’t bring all my shoes over, that would take up too much space. These were the most versatile ones I own.

The winning outfit

Now that one doesn’t come as a surprise at all. I think it was pretty clear Wednesday’s outfit was my favorite. It was also R‘s favorite. He loves that dress a lot, he’s always happy when he sees me wearing it. I usually wear it when we go out to concerts or out with friends with mesh tights. But the fact he used opaque tights made it totally work appropriate with the cardigan over. My bosses actually said that day I looked beaming. I think it was clear the clothes I wore made me happier than usual.

 

Final thoughts…

I think overall it was a fun thing to do for R and I. It’s something everybody should try with their partner, even if it’s just one day. Just to see what our significant other thinks what looks good on us, or see what they would like to see us in. Or just to have a good laugh together.

Because after all, that was the goal of this challenge this week, have fun with my boyfriend.

My partner dressed me – Day five – Friday

The last day! The final one. R‘s salvation. His HALLELUJAH time. Seriously. I think we were both relieved it was over.

I had a day off to get ready for the Music 4 Cancer fest, a punk festival where every single cent of profit was going towards cancer research.

Here’s the outfit:

received_1901912199864092.jpeg

I don’t have individual pictures of the pieces, because I was in a rush all day, but you can see me good old Vans, my oldest pair of jeans and my new Parkway Drive tank top.

Now for the breakdown:

  1. Comfort: 3/5

I hate jeans. Let’s be real here, I hate jeans with a passion. These ones are comfortable, but I hate jeans. I really need to give these away.

     2. Day Appropriate: 5/5

I mean, a day off, a music festival… Jeans and a band tank top is pretty much perfect fit!

    3. Coordination: 5/5

You can’t go wrong with that. I did change into my Chuck Taylors before we left to the festival because I don’t want to ruin my Vans just yet, since I bought them like a week prior.

    4. Overall Appreciation: 4/5

One word: Jeans. Other than that, it was perfect for the day, I threw on a hoodie in the evening to prevent getting sick (spoiler alert, joke’s on me I was already going down with something)

Total: 17/20

And that was it! The whole challenge is now over! Tomorrow I’ll be breaking down my thoughts, wrap it all up and we will look at the winning outfit for that week!

Welcome to the purge

When you live half the time at your partner’s place, you end up in my situation where half your belongings are still in boxes three months after you moved in.

So Friday I took ALL of my clothes out, threw them on the floor and went through everything to sort it out. My goal? Have at least my bedroom be liveable. If you can call it like that since I have a bed frame but no mattress.

 

Back to the main thing though.

I have too many clothes I don’t wear, but just kept putting back into my closet or in my dressers. It was time for a purge. I wanted to get my things ready for Fall, I needed to know if I had to go shopping for the cooler days, so I put everything in a pile, sat down and started going through everything, piece by piece.

Here’s what it looked like before:

IMG_20180914_091125465.jpg Now that’s what I call a war zone.

 

It took me two hours. Two hours to sort, fold and put away everything. Two hours to fetch lost sock friends, decide that no I do not need two bath robes in the exact same color, find a bag big enough to fit everything I was donating (because I never throw my old clothes in the trash, unless they are ripped, forever stained, completely stretched out of shape, or just un-wearable).

I parted with about half of the clothes I had. With each piece of clothing I was taking I was going down this list of questions:

  1. Is it still wearable?
  2. Have I worn this in the last year?
  3. Is it for a special/specific occasion?
  4. Am I going to wear this in the next year?

If the answer to any of these questions was no, I would put it aside for donation, unless it was time to trash it.

Purging my closet is something I like to do twice a year. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall. Not only does it help me keep things tidy and unclogged in my closet, it also helps me get a good idea of what I need for the season to come. It’s also a very good way to clear out my head. I get in the zone and I stop over thinking other things that may be going on my life. I’m so invested in the purge, that for a couple of hours, my brain shuts everything other than the clothes. I’ll usually have music playing in the background and most of the time I’ll be humming or singing along. I’ll light some incense to clean out the air in the room and leave a refreshing smell.

I also took that opportunity to re-organize things in my closet and in my dresser. I’m a little bit freaky on this, I have one way to put things, each type of clothes has its own place in a very specific spot.

IMG_20180914_101419464.jpgIMG_20180914_101428498.jpg

Now that! is what I like to see.

It is in no means perfect, but I work with what I have. My apartment is about a hundred years old and as much as I love its quirkiness, it makes it difficult to really organize everything the best way. But for now, this is pretty damn good and I’m happy with it.

It’s easy for me to see what I have, what I want to wear, etc.

My closet is very, very intuitive:

  • Left side: work appropriate.
  • Right side: Fun/weekend appropriate.

 

My dresser is also intuitive, to me.

  • Top row: Bottoms, it’s always the first thing I grab in the morning. On the left, skirts, in the middle, leggings and on the right, jeans and shorts.
  • Second row: Shirts, since I always chose my shirt based on the bottoms I picked. On the lefts side, t-shirts, in the middle, warmer long sleeves and on the right, work appropriate shirts.
  • Third row: leftovers. On the left, my gigantic panda onepiece pajama, in the middle, my woods appropriate clothes for the colder times (jogging pants, merino wool long johns, etc) and on the right, tank tops.
  • Last row: warm pajamas for the winter, or when I want to be snuggled up in the warmest things I own.
  • Top drawer: socks, underwear, bikinis and swimsuits.
  • Bottom drawer: pajamas, pajama pants and t-shirts I used as pajamas.

 

I’m very happy with the way it looks right now, I most likely will change everything again in the Spring, but for now, this is what I have!