The Dark In You

Despite being a ray of fucking sunshine, apparently, people don’t always like me.

It’s not really that big of a deal, because I mostly don’t care, not to mention I don’t like to discuss it, because I feel like by giving faceless online strangers attention, I’m feeding into their ego. But it ties into something that’s been bothering me for some time now, so here we go.

I visit a website to discuss the pro wrasslin, because I enjoy the product and most of my friends don’t care for it, so I would rather discuss it with like minded people, just like my friends who watch the Bachelor go to Reddit instead of trying to talk to me about it.

However, pro wrestling has a huge group of misogynistic fans that like to police the fandom, because they hate themselves and project their hatred onto others. They use this as a way to spew their venom on others. Usually I laugh. But there’s one or two that take it too far. They stalk my social media. Attack my appearance. Look up my personal address and my employer. Send death threats. Imagine being this butt hurt because someone really didn’t love Samoa Joe. But last night, this same dude decided to post this pic and tell everyone, wait for it, that I am fat.

First of all, holy shit, no way. Literally 90% of my blog is dedicated to why I’ve worked to change everything about how I eat and live so I can look and feel better about myself. The other 10% is all about embracing that how I’ve chosen to do that doesn’t lend to a stereotypically thin frame. I’ll never be a size two. Instead I’m a 10-12. My legs are strong. Maybe I don’t have a six pack abs, but my body is healthy for my body type. That 31 inch waist is the result of exercise and healthy living. Maybe it can’t wear sample sizes, but when you used to wear a size 22, it still feels pretty damn good. Is there still work to do? Of course! But I’m not going to undo all of the work I’ve put into improving by getting all depressed because someone who hates themselves is mad.

But it always makes me laugh that this is somehow the only insult people can come up with; you’re fat. My ex husband (who was twice my size) would use it whenever he was having one of his tantrums; you’re fat. You’ll never amount to anything without me, because you’re stupid and fat. As if this word somehow detracts from a woman’s worth. When WWE superstar Paige was bullied by the same idiots, it was always the same; she’s fat. As if being healthy and overcoming so much to finally feel comfortable in her own skin doesn’t matter; SOME DUDE THINKS SHE IS FAT. She no longer has worth, or beauty, or value.

What a load of crap.

Fat is a word. It only holds the power you give it. I believe every woman should aim for healthy for their body type, but I also think words mean only what you want them to. Technically, Ashley Graham is “fat.” But she’s known for being one of the world’s most beautiful women. There is no one size fits all for women & we need to aspire to reach our healthy body type.

For too long, fat was the word to cut me to my core. As if being fat meant all of my good qualities had no merit at all, because I was FAT. Meanwhile, the only person giving that word power was me. I chose to let fat make me feel badly about myself. But it’s still the go to for every insecure little puke on Earth, regardless of size. Besides, the same people who call women fat are the same guys who cry when women check out guys that look less like them and more like Chris Evans. Why can’t women stop being so superficial? Maybe they don’t like you because you’re an asshole that calls women fat on the internet.

I guess the point is that words only hurt if you let them. As summer comes (in theory), we’ll be surrounded by fad diets and cleanses, telling us how we can get a bikini body. How if we aren’t a certain size, we should be ashamed of how we look and who we are. As long as you’re doing your best to live in a way that’s the most healthy for your body, you should be proud of yourself and not let a word define you or hurt you. Be proud of all the things that matter; your dress size will rarely be one of them.

Shake it Out

Guess what guys? I’m gonna do a thing!

My gym decided we should build a team to run a 10k together. I am not a good runner, despite running for four years. I am slow and awkward. But, my attempt to join the Festivus Games was such a flop, and I’ve been looking for a new goal to work towards. This seemed as good as anything, so I’ve set a goal in Runkeeper and we are gonna do the damn thing…

…I am going to die. Please help me.

I joke, but I’m actually really excited. Before I made the big move, my daughter, some friends & I did a 5k mud run and we had a blast! Training was fun and we felt so empowered afterwards. We were strong. We kicked ass! But more importantly, it was fun to be a part of something. We went out there together and accomplished something together. We’ll have those memories forever.

Humans have a deeply rooted desire to belong. It’s why peer pressure is a real problem. It’s why people stay with toxic friends or mates. We want to be part of something, be included. Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something special and magical, which is why we get inspired by people who are creating their something to be part of. My girls & I watched the first ever women’s Royal Rumble, and it didn’t matter who won, we were inspired that these women were part of something special. They were making history together, they elevated each other. Deep down, that’s what we all want; to be part of something meaningful.

I think that’s why I like Crossfit & my gym community so much. You are part of something. Yes, you’re focused on your personal best, but you’re also part of a community of people who are elevating each other to do their very best…or enter a 10k run for funsies. But you celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. You cheer each other on. You are part of something meaningful. We all want to belong to something. The lesson is to find a place of belonging that is positive and encouraging, not one that sucks the life out of you.

I was excited at the idea of being part of something. Part of a team that’s doing a cool thing. And let’s be real, aside from encountering some asshole geese or a shin splint, is there really a negative downside to participating in a 10K run? You get a tshirt, you get to feel accomplished, and it’ll help me get those legs ready to rock a dress for my friend Brie’s wedding later in the summer! Not to mention, I bought all of that Birdiebee gear, including the cute shorts. I think I found a place where I can wear them for the first time! When you’re surrounded by positive people, you’re inspired to do positive things and set positive goals. The trick is to do your best to be positive yourself and be the change you wish to see in the world. My girls are watching me, so I need to show them what healthy, active and happy is. I think it’s working, as my oldest has embraced athletics through cheer and now Crossfit (she’s skipping the run. Waking up early isn’t her thing).

So, I’m going to train. I’m going to work hard. I may crawl to the end, or die after I cross the finish line, but I’ll finish, and I’ll be part of something positive and healthy, which I hope will inspire the girls to seek out a positive and healthy way to satisfy their desire to belong.

From Now On

GUYS. I HAVE NEWS. GUYS. GUUUUYYYYSSSS.

Today, I was scrolling though the Twitter like normal, because in addition to today being my daughter’s 11th birthday, I have the flu.

I’ve actually lost my voice completely, so it’s a wonderful time to be alive, as Bossman said. But I can’t talk, outside of about 10 minutes today. So, while she was happily trying on her new apron and oven mitts (apparently the best gifts EVER, as she’s always wanted a nice apron with matching oven mitts and these are Nerdy Nummies, so even better), I was mindlessly scrolling. I saw a tweet from my editor at the Yards, and saw that he was nominated for TWO Alberta Magazine Awards! I was so excited for him, and went to issue a congrats until I saw something in the corner.

GUYS. I HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN ALBERTA MAGAZINE AWARD AND I FOUND OUT ON TWITTER, WHICH IS COMPLETELY IN LINE WITH MY LIFE.

That’s right! I am an Alberta Magazine Award nominee! Isn’t that the coolest thing you’ve ever heard?! (To read my nominated piece, CLICK HERE) I would have screamed if I could make sounds other than pitiful squeaks! So, I texted everybody I’ve ever met and told them! My friends are the best because they’re super supportive. My best friend in Cow Province agreed to be my date. My gym crew all took the time to “like” the news. My teacher and mentor said she was proud of me. It was a day of happy tears and ruined mascara, but I got to celebrate the fact that one of my best friends in the whole world turned 11 today and after all of these years of working and risks, I am finally making it in the world of journalism.

I didn’t submit this work for nomination. I had no idea this was even a thing that could happen. I’ve been a member of AMPA since 2015, when I started at Great West Newspapers. I never thought this could be me. I was proud of this piece because it was important and relevant and I was proud to be asked to write it. I probably won’t win this award. The other pieces are a zillion times better than mine. But for me, the girl in 80G who was part of the Convergence pilot program a million years ago, this is a huge deal and I’m super proud.

Ahh, fat MHC. How I hate you.

Hopefully I can get the time off and Carissa & I can go to the ceremony while I meet other journalists and maybe learn some new ways to improve my writing. Then I’ll lose, be disappointed, and move forward. But right now, I feel like one of those celebrities when they hear they’re going to the Oscars; proud and humbled.

Today I feel like I can really be a great writer, and make my daughters proud. They were proud today. For all those times I feel like I’m parenting wrong; today made me think I could really be a role model to them and be the kind of Mom that they can be proud of…at least until the next time I have to work late, or on my day off, or whatever it takes to keep us fed and housed because this house of four women are doing it for themselves. But for one day, all of those struggles seemed totally worth it.

Never Enough

Normally, the stories I tell on my blog are ridiculous things I do that make no sense and end up ending very badly for me, as well as all parties involved.

But today, I’m going to tell you all about my responsible adulting and why it freaks me out.

I’ve needed to consider buying a car for some time. I’ve been putting it off for some time. Last week, I began the preapproval process so I can buy a car! I also decided on a car, and test drove a car, and once I’m done making a six month budget to see if it works, comparing insurance companies, and if it works out, I will be the proud owner of a 2017 Hyundai Elantra at the end of February! At the latest, end of June! Isn’t that exciting?!

This is a stock photo. This is not actually my car.

I almost bought the thing today, because the sales lady was VERY good (if I could poach her, I would, but she’s actually better than me), I was so excited, but I decided to take a breather before I commit (& some friends suggested that I check the interest rate & maybe shop around). I promised I’d complete Driving school before buying a car because I want the price break on insurance. Speaking of insurance, I want to talk to my friend Paul from TD Insurance because he’s literally the only person I trust about cars, insurance, etc. But mostly, I got really panicky. This is a MAJOR life choice! You don’t just buy a car because you like to drive or you decide you want one, it’s a major commitment. It’s like a child; you have to take care of it! You have to make sure to get oil changes every 3000km, never let gas fall below 1/4 of a tank & follow the service schedule to the letter. If you don’t take care of your vehicle, you run it into the ground and then it’s more expensive. One of the biggest fights in my marriage was his obsession with owning a vehicle (as he claimed he had no self worth unless he owned a car), but refusal to maintain the car, prompting huge expenses for us. Am I ready to take on that responsibility? I should. I’m missing out on quality freelance gigs because I don’t own a car. The cost of the vehicle is within my budget, and maintaining the payments would help me continue to rebuild my credit. But I’m scared. What if I get in an accident? What if the girls are with me? What if I can’t afford to take them somewhere because of the car payments? Just this week I had to pay for a new pair of glasses for my 10 year old (my benefits will reimburse me but still) and the winter months aren’t known for big money in my line of work. What if I buy the car and I end up overextending myself and my car gets repossessed and the kids and I are ruined? I just got my promotion. Shouldn’t I wait a few months to make sure I’m going to do well? I have stressed more about this car than I did moving across the country (mostly because journalism made it a no brainer).

CARS ARE BIG DEALS GUYS. MUCH BIGGER THAN MOVING TWO TIME ZONES TO A CITY YOU HAD NEVER SET FOOT IN. PLEASE HELP ME.

I know it’s the best idea for my family, as the teen & I could split custody once she gets her class five license, and it would be easier to get to work, buy groceries, and get to the gym. Not having a car has held me back from working at newspapers. Unlike some people, who see cars as status symbols or toys, a vehicle is an investment into my future. But like all major adult decisions, I tend to over analyze and panic. I’m so worried about the payments and what if I have a bad month at my job and end up missing one or worse, my insurance! The whole thing makes me want to start drinking.

I guess the question I have is how do you get past concerns about cost and fears of killing everyone in your backseat to become a responsible driver? How does one justify the expense, because I’m freaking out about it? Owning a car has been my biggest fear in life and I’m about to grab that fear by the horns and conquer it, but I’m already breathing in the bag. How am I supposed to be a responsible driver when the thought of BUYING the car prompts a panic attack?

I’m not good with major life choices. I live in Alberta because magazines. But I guess the reason it’s so scary is that I remember all of those times we had car trouble, or had to scrape together gas money, etc. and I’m terrified that it’ll happen again. Cars always seem like more of a hindrance than a help, even if I do kind of need one. I likely won’t drive to places that I can walk to get bread or milk. But it’s a good idea that also feels like a scary financial burden…and I could accidentally kill a bunny or worse.

So, if anyone has any suggestions to help me get through the car buying process, or at least closer to deciding if this is the right time for me to buy a car, help your girl out. I’ll be in my blanket fort, comparing insurance quotes, and hyperventilating.

Gorgeous

Oh, Hello. Happy New Year!

I hope you enjoyed the festive holiday break! I worked like a dog through it! But, it wasn’t all for naught. I love my jobs, even if journalism had to take a backseat for the month due to the craziness of the season. Fortunately, I’m working on an article that I’m super excited about, with some pitches out there. Things are quieter at the day job. 2018 is already amazing & I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me.

My professional life is already off to a rocking start. As many of you know, last year I was asked to step down from my position and work as an assistant manager. It was demoralizing as fuck, but I wasn’t ready for the job. I had so much to learn and I actually saw it as an opportunity to learn how to be a good manager. I wanted to learn from my mistakes and become better. So I did. Thanks to a lot of guidance from my District Team Leader (whom I call my Jedi Master), I was recently transferred to a new location as acting sales manager! I’m pretty excited about my new role within my company. My staff is amazing and I’m so proud to have them as my team. Don’t worry though, I held onto that old nametag because I was pretty sure I’d use it again.

Meanwhile, my personal life is going pretty okay. I have the best friends who are with me through of the best and worst times. 2018 brings visits with them, including my friend’s wedding to her soul mate. Her joy makes me smile. I’ve been adopted into the best gym community. There’s no one else I’d rather hate my life during a WOD with. My kids are amazing and they’re super pumped for our trip to see Taylor Swift this summer. Breaking Benjamin has a new album coming out this year and my friend/favourite former co-worker are going to see them live in February, so that’s pretty awesome too. 2018 is gonna be rad yo.

My love life will always be ridiculous. I’ve been casually dating a guy we’ll call the teacher for about a month. He’s nice, attractive, we have a ton of things in common, and I should be head over heels…except I’m not.

I wanted to like him, but instead, Meh. The first red flag was that he goes dutch on every date, which is fucking rude. Before you get all “But MHC, you’re a feminist, what about equality?! I can’t believe that this bothers you! Think of equality!” Well, Captain jerkface, let me tell you something; except on very rare occasions; my platonic friends and I don’t even go Dutch on nights out. The person who invites pays. Why? Because it’s called having manners, asshole. Tonight I went out with my friend Carissa & I paid because I invited her. The guy asked me out every time. But every time, we split the bill. This to me screams lack of effort. If you can’t treat your guest, and make them pay for half the plate of nachos and a mojito, what effort will you put into a relationship? Not to mention it sends a mixed signal. Are we on a date? Are we dudebros? Life is too short for games in the early stages of dating. But more importantly, everything has a negative twist. EVERYTHING. Working late, not having plans on Friday, the Far Side. Everything had this dark attached to it. I look at the bright side of everything so the sigh and pessimistic side to everything was kind of meh. But we kept talking. I kept agreeing to go out again. I kept the conversation going. It was constantly me putting in the work & it bugged me. Unless he’s having a bad day, I don’t hear from him. Why do I bother? I guess I thought that you can’t ask for everything to be what you want. So what if he’s cheap, and kind of emo, and says things like “it’s too people-y out?” He’s interested and nice I guess?

Sure, I didn’t get butterflies, or kind of excited when he texted me. Just meh. But I’ll grow into romantic attraction, right? When was the last time the butterflies led me in the right direction anyway (if you need a friendly reminder of my horrible dating choices, click HERE)? Obviously it’ll be the right choice, I’ll just keep telling myself that.

Then I ran into the hot guy from my gym while I was out and about one day. I tried to talk to him once before. I tripped over my own barbell and contemplated dying there. Everything else can be summed up by my lord and saviour Jesus Swift by clicking here.

But we had a nice chat and said we’d see each other in class. Told my best friend; she may be planning the wedding because she was so excited that I’m so attracted to a human being. I’ve literally spent a year telling her about why the hot guy from my gym is so hot. This random interaction gave me an epiphany (& no, it’s not what one of my fellow managers thinks and that Jesus was showing me that I should make a move. Hot guys at the gym always have girlfriends, because they’re hot. And cool. And I’m a potato that sucks at burpees). I realized that I was wasting my time with the teacher.

I keep settling because I feel like I should date, or want to date someone, even though I don’t really care. Then I hate them after like a month because I realize they’re assholes. I choose guys (to shut people up) that I think are more “my league.” You know, losers, not “quality mans”. I always think maybe if I was in better shape, or wasn’t awkward and weird, I could land a great guy who would make me happy like in the movies. But I am, so I should choose guys more my level. You know, the guy who doesn’t pay for dinner and turns everything into an emo sigh.

Between well meaning friends and family who want me to meet someone, and my own feelings of inadequacy when it comes to my life, I keep settling for guys so I can be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. It’s not some item I want to check off of a bucket list, like the triathlon I want to participate in, or going to Vegas, or finally trying a donair. It should be because I genuinely want to spend time with someone. I’m tired of selling myself short in relationships. So, I likely won’t see the teacher again. I keep replying to be nice, but I can’t see accepting another date. Maybe we can be friends, or acquaintances? But a relationship is definitely out of the question. So is hot guy from the gym, because that would require actually talking to him, and I literally cannot do that.

For me, 2018 is about elevation. Elevating my team, empowering other women, including my daughters, building people up and watching them thrive. It’s obvious that I need to start with myself! Get to the gym more and have some work life balance. Attend the events we hold at the gym! Spend time with my friends, and make loving myself a priority. The more I love myself, the more I will see men like hot guy at the gym as “my league.” After all, I’m pretty dope. Four out of five Wireless sales managers would agree that I’m kind of cool. And I’m pretty when I make an effort. I’ll keep losing weight and build up my confidence and kick some ass at life & stop lowering my standards just to say I have a date. I deserve better, and I’ll need to remember that.

Maybe I need to look in the mirror and see a “quality womans,” and then I’ll stop wearing my “I attract losers” sign when I go out. Or learn how to talk to guys without looking like an idiot. Or both. Whatever.

Call It What You Want

I am a feminist.

I think women should have equal rights, equal pay. I think we should have control over our bodies. I think women should be viewed as equal to men. I think women should be allowed to embrace our sexuality, etc. I think women should empower women, not tear each other down.

But, in a post Trump world, I struggle with the idea of being a feminist. I’m ready to turn in my feminist card, and it’s because of other feminists.

You’re probably thinking, what? No, you mean Trump. You mean the GOP. YOU MEAN MEN. Nope, I mean other feminists.

(For the record, the GOP & Trump can suck it)

Feminism is about equality, but lately it’s been about some exclusive club that requires flash over action. The biggest example of that is that feminism, equality, and celebration of women doesn’t apply to Taylor Swift.

In addition to having the highest selling album of 2017, donating generously to victims of hurricane ravaged Houston, flood ravaged Louisiana, and to Kesha’s legal defence fund, Swift was named one of Time’s silence breakers. For those of you behind on the times (pun absolutely intended), let me bring you up to speed. Taylor Swift was sued by a man who sexually assaulted her for defamation. Swift countersued for a dollar. She won. She defended herself against her abuser. After her victory, she donated generous sums of money to charities designed to help women who have been victimized by sexual assault. Swift’s only public interview in almost two years was with Time, to shed light on this issue (it’s an amazing read, check it out). RAINN saw a huge increase in women reporting assaults, citing Swift’s bravery as the reason. But instead of being proud of a group of women for telling their stories and helping other women tell theirs, I was floored by the responses;

“Taylor Swift didn’t even use the #MeToo hashtag! She didn’t tweet!”

“She hasn’t even denounced Trump. Her inclusion is false until she tweets denouncing Trump.”

“Taylor, I’m really happy for you, and Imma let you finish, but Rose McGowan had the best #MeToo of all time! You didn’t even tweet!”

Comments about Kesha deserving it more, Taylor hasn’t denounced Nazis (which she did, through her attorney), and until she tweets about Trump & uses the #MeToo hashtag, her experiences, her assault, her attempts to help women are invalid (ironically enough, Swift tweeting in support of the women’s march was heavily criticized, as she only tweeted. Why didn’t she attend?).

Wait. What?

Feminism isn’t about checking boxes to make sure you’re part of the super cool and exclusive feminism club. It’s not an itemized list of marches or protests you’ve been to. It’s about helping women. Swift has conducted one public interview, which was to highlight an issue she feels strongly about; protecting women from sexual abuse. She’s donated money to causes, she asked for a dollar to hold a man accountable for assaulting her. She donated to Kesha’s legal team to help her in her quest for justice. She also highlighted Kesha and her experiences in the article.

Instead of celebrating women, there was think piece after think piece about how Taylor Swift has not proven herself as a true feminist because she hasn’t written an apology album or even sent a tweet denouncing Trump. All she did was donate money. Not. One. Tweet. That’s when I started to realize that feminism isn’t about equality anymore. It’s about strong arming women to conform to the cause of the day, exactly how others want them to, or they’re kicked out of the club and vilified. When feminism stops applying to certain women because they didn’t dance like a puppet, or tweet with the right hashtag, then you are not a feminist. You’re just a mean person trapped in high school trying to bring down the personification of the head cheerleader.

A similar thing happened 15 years ago, when Christina Aguilera embraced her sexuality and released Stripped. The same feminists who wanted victim blaming and slut shaming to end were calling Aguilera a whore because she sang frankly about one night stands, women taking pleasure from sex, and embracing her body. While we now embrace Aguilera as a feminist trailblazer, I’ll never forget that the same people patting her on the back once called her a whore.

Emma Watson was also almost kicked out of the feminist club last year because she posed for Vanity Fair topless. What kind of feminist does that? Feminism seems less like a movement and more like a popularity contest. Action isn’t important, hashtags and analysis trumps action. Watson’s photo was somehow more important than her contributions to the advancement of women’s rights through the UN. Aguilera’s body of work was trivialized because she displayed her body. And they didn’t fucking tweet god dammit!

Women struggle to be taken seriously as it is; turning the quest for equality into a pissing contest to see who is the feminist most active on social media, or who marched the loudest, or who’s feminism is correct according to Jezebel or Daily Beast, isn’t helping. We look exactly like how we’re painted; as catty, jealous, vindictive bitches who like to boss each other around. A feminist doesn’t have to tweet about Trump to represent women; she can donate money. She can encourage victims. She doesn’t need to cover up (or pose nude). She needs to act in the level in which she feels comfortable, and in the interest of helping other women. That’s all. Stop policing feminism, because it’s making it harder for women to celebrate theirs. It makes it harder for us to defend the movement. Basically, if your thoughts are “not to diminish her experiences, but…” maybe sit down and shut up until you have something constructive to say.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I try to refrain from talking about my daughters on my blog because I have this thing about parents who blast their kids lives on display. It feels so ooky. Like, photos on social media is one thing; but bloggers posting stories about their kids or videos of coached kids doing “spontaneous funny things” and tagging Ellen feels so gross to me. I choose to be a blogger and share my life publicly; the kids have no say. So, I never post photos and keep stories about them to a minimum.

But, they will be mentioned a bit today, although I’ll keep the deets high level.

Yesterday, I was stressed out. I had worked from open to close on Black Friday & was on hour six of what was supposed to be another 10 hour day. I was tired, terrified that we wouldn’t beat last year’s numbers, and generally cranky. I was kind of stressed because the guy I’ve been getting to know seems almost too nice, too perfect. Too many “I love that too,” and too many compliments, and it makes me feel like it could be too good to be true and after a few weeks I’ll find out he’s a serial killer. I was stressed because I hadn’t been to the gym in a week, and I had planned to try a barre class, but I couldn’t find the time. I was stressed out about finances, because it’s Xmas and I’m a sole support parent. I was stressed because I’m trying to get the girls their gifts, as well as hopefully surprise them with tickets to Taylor Swift and a fun trip to Toronto to go to the zoo and my 10 year old will perhaps finally get her dream of seeing kangaroos that hop and aren’t depressed like the ones in Detroit.

I was stressed and pushing myself too hard, and then I got a phone call that my two oldest daughters had been hit by a car during a hit and run. I ran out of my mall, panicked and thinking the worst, with my only thought being how I could get home faster to get to them. The good news is that everyone is fine, injuries are minor and they’re only shaken up. I insisted that they all sleep in my room last night because I didn’t want them out of my sight. Today was spent with doctors and taking steps to have the case investigated, but also to eat pizza and go to Toys R Us, play Super Mario Run and listen to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Swift.

The most important thing you can do when things are shitty is make your day as normal as possible, to remind ourselves that nothing is ever as scary as it seems. I don’t want my girls to live in fear of the world around them. I want them to focus on good things, like the neighbour who went out to help them, or my coworkers, who all called to make sure they were okay. Focus on the fact that Aunt Kiki called and checked in every few hours, not that dad dismissed it as no big deal and didn’t call to check in on them, just a quick call at 8pm to fume about my upgrading a phone, never asking if they were okay. Focus on what’s good; the rest sorts itself out.

In the end, the store hitting budget, the guy being too nice, or my bank balance didn’t matter. What did matter was that I could have lost 2/3 of my whole world because some dude in a Honda Civic was speeding in a school zone. What matters is that they’re okay and safe. They get to grow up into women and make me proud every day. What matters is that somewhere there’s a parent who isn’t as fortunate as we were and their story doesn’t have the ending mine does. They would kill for a chance to call out of work to take their teenager to the doctor to check for concussion symptoms, or rearrange their shifts to walk the kids to school because they’re scared to cross at that crosswalk. I’m fortunate af that I get to do those things. Sometimes being a sole support mom means you have to work so much to give them a good life that you miss stuff, like parent teacher night. But what matters is that you put them first, whether it’s working that 16 hour day, or rushing out into the night to protect them. That’s being a parent; not a handful of phone calls or a visit every now and again. Being a parent means supporting your kids emotionally, financially, protecting them and being there for them 24/7. That’s what matters. If you’re not doing those things; you’re not a parent.

I hope no parent ever has to have that kind of shock to the system. Let’s not lose focus on why we work so hard, or do so much. We’re doing it for them. We can’t take even a second for granted because an asshole in a Honda Civic could take it all away. I’m going to try to remember that next time I’m stressed about sales numbers, or my bank balance, or because someone did some stupid shit to piss me off. I’ll remind myself that what really matters is making time to hang with the kiddos, play Super Mario, and be grateful that I have the chance to do so.

So It Goes…

I’m a very lucky human being, because I’ve had a core group of friends to see me through most of my life.

There’s something so comforting about the fact that my best guy friend at thirty something is the same one I had when I was 17. That my roommate at 21 is still my friend today. That my best friend at eight years old is still someone I connect with on social media while we navigate the world of single parenting three girls. It always makes me feel like I can’t be that bad of a person, because the people who knew me then still like me now. It’s nice to know that the people who saw you when you loved Barbie, or listened to KoRn, or went with you to get eleven different piercings have evolved with you and you still love each other.

Also, look how cute we were at prom.

I will also be the first to admit that I once relied too heavily on people to look out for me. My wonderful friends did that, mostly because my track record with life choices is pretty terrible. They still do, and I love them for it. Last week was a shit show (which I mentioned here), and every one of my friends (save for one), suggested that I move home. Sometimes I even think about it. But the teen has her heart set on attending a university here, and my job as a mom is to help her get to where she wants to go in life. But, after a long chat with the best of all the guy friends, I realized why I need to stay with the Cow People in the Cow province.

He casually brought up someone that I used to know, who I haven’t thought of in months. I called him “the Dude.” Mostly because for a good two minutes, I couldn’t remember his name. I once believed that the dude was my happily ever after; now I had to pause to remember his name. I’ve realized that I have no idea who my soulmate is, because I have no idea what I want in a mate. I know what I don’t want; but I’ve spent so long listening to what people think I should want that I have no idea what I want. But I know I need to stop getting caught up in a type and just let what’s meant to happen strike like lightning. Maybe instead of a Seth Rollins, I belong with a Dean Ambrose (gross). Maybe not that extreme, but you get the idea.

However, I do know that my adventures to the land of cows have helped me realize that life evolves when you do; the thing you wanted a million years ago, might not be anything you would recognize now. I don’t want to be the person pretending on FB, posting the happy family pics to pretend I’m happy when in reality, I’m not because I’m walking on eggshells. You know what I mean, one half of the couple has everything about how in love they are and happy photos and the other, not so much, and you KNOW neither one is happy. I don’t want the complacency of my life in London; where I was content at my job and didn’t really push to get my written work published because meh. I don’t want to be the person who settled: for the house on Felix, for the call centre job because it paid the bills, for the husband that made me cry because no decent human would want me. I don’t want to be the woman that relies on her friends to prop her up; I want to be a person that can stand on her own while holding up others.

In the Cow Province, I don’t settle. I grow. I wanted to achieve my goals and I am. I am growing as a journalist; my Great West Newspapers editor is really helping me evolve as a writer. I want to move up at work; not just because a promotion means more money, but because I want to be challenged. I want to develop into a better leader and coach. I want to push myself to be better, so the friend who knew me at eight, or dated me at 17, or lived with me at 21, can be proud of me. More importantly, so I can be proud of me.

I needed to go on my grand adventure so I could learn how to push myself harder. I needed to learn that my weirdo personality is not for everyone; but I need to own it. I needed to learn how to stop being some simpering victim and own my shit. But most of all, I needed to learn that every single thing that pops up on FB memories about my life from this time a few years ago isn’t the life I really wanted at all, and I don’t miss any part of it, except the house I lived in while in London, and that my friends lived in same area code.

As much as I sometimes want to go home and settle back into Ontario life, I realize that for me to become the type of person I want to be, I need to follow the path I’m making, not the one anyone built for me. Maybe this grand adventure was a lesson in throwing my very sure and certain guidebook for life out the window and actually work to become a better person. Maybe I needed to change for the better, and the things that stayed (Crossfit, journalism, an unhealthy obsession with pancakes) were meant to stay, along with my best friend in the eighth grade, the friend I met working at Target, or the hippie that dragged me to college with her, and always reminded me that just because it’s not the path everyone would have taken, doesn’t mean it’s not the one I’m meant to follow.

John Wayne

If I ever decide to write the book about my life, we will call this chapter, “the time I went on the worst first date ever & created a safe word at my work to save me from future situations like this.”

I went on a first date with a guy and it already started out as a disaster because I was late. I hate being late and it just looks bad. So I’m already off my game. But it starts out so promising that I decide to let it go. There’s coffee, sunshine, good conversation. I’m actually having a really nice time. The subject changes to my work & an article I wrote about safe injection sites. This stemmed into his opinion that BLM is a terrorist group and “as woman, statistically, you should fear black people.”

Ummm…what? Statistically speaking, women are 10 times more likely to be abused by a date or romantic partner over a stranger! When I mentioned this, he informed me that those numbers aren’t totally accurate, because certain minority groups inflate those numbers.

He continues on by telling me that black men wouldn’t be shot if they stopped resisting and just accepted the police were right. I have some pretty strong feelings about this, and all of them are that that opinion is complete bullshit. We need to stop blaming victims for their own murders.

Then he said “I’m a Trump supporter because Bernie should have won.” Then I realized I needed to run.

Before I continue with the story, can someone explain to me how Trump is an acceptable substitute for Bernie? Because I genuinely don’t understand. Please explain. When I asked the dude, it was just that Hilary isn’t the right type of person. It should be Bernie, or Trump. No one is ready for a woman world leader (sorry Angela Merkel, no one is ready for you. Please resign).

I made up an excuse about having to work and ran screaming for the hills. My coworkers had a good laugh about it at my expense, and suggested I write a book about my ridiculous first dates.

But a friend from home reminded me that I’m not getting any younger & I still haven’t met anyone & stop being so picky. Just date the Trump supporter because I talk too much, I’m not gonna land a decent man. I thought about a guy online that started a conversation saying I was “hitting the wall” and no decent man would want me. I started thinking, maybe I’m the problem. Maybe I do just talk too much. Maybe I am too picky. Maybe I do work too much and focus too much on the gym and I’m just unlovable.

Or maybe I just have some sucky, not supportive friends? I mean, when I sacrificed all of my interests, hobbies, feelings for relationships that I had to walk on eggshells to maintain, my self esteem took a hit, I gained weight, and I felt like a person watching their life unfold than living it. I didn’t feel like I was someone unworthy of love, or unattractive, or the like, until the friend back home said so. Until then, the first date story was hilarious. We all laughed at how ridiculous it was and discussed making a safe word so I could have an escape. My best friend and I had discussed that I’ll probably meet my Mr. Right at my gym, because that’s where I spend all of my social time anyway, and because he’ll have already seen me all sweaty and miserable, so it’ll be a match based in reality.

Maybe it is all downhill from here, but I had a good run when it comes to being cute.

I didn’t think I was doing something wrong until someone else decided to tell me that I need to settle for the Trump supporting racist. But how would I be proud to introduce my friends to a Trump supporting racist? I wouldn’t. I won’t settle for a relationship I’m not proud to be in ever again. So, maybe I am hitting the wall. But if I wouldn’t want you to meet my coworkers, I sure as Hell wouldn’t want you around my girls, which means, peace out, Trump supporting racist. All this showed me is that I need thicker skin and can’t let my self esteem take a hit because another person feels the need to tell me I need to land a husband or an online dating dude hates himself and wants to spread the pain around. Until I improve on that, maybe the universe wants me to stay unattached.

The thing is, you can’t lower your standards because you’re afraid to be alone. That’s how you end up taking back that toxic ex that only comes into your life when they want something, or staying in a relationship that you have no business being in. When you do that, you are doing yourself (& them) a disservice. Choose your time to improve yourself, work on your self esteem, and fall in love with yourself. Figure out who you are and the rest will fall into place. No one needs to settle for a Trump supporting racist. We all just need to do our thing, live our lives, and just in case you end up on a date with a Trump supporting racist, don’t forget your safe word.

Too Good at Goodbyes

Ain’t life some shit?

A couple of days ago, I went to bed shortly after midnight. I had written a positive little blurb about my attempts to get healthier. I posted it, then lights out, as 8am comes early. Then, I woke up to read about a terrorist attack within my city. Five people were injured, but the suspect, an alleged radical sympathizer of ISIS was detained. He is facing charges and will be brought to justice.

Maybe it was because I slept through it, or because I knew everyone I love was safe. Maybe it was because Commonwealth Stadium still felt removed from me. I didn’t feel like the world felt darker, or scarier. I went to work. The kids went Halloween costume shopping. I had no fear, in fact, quite the opposite. I felt proud that my city’s fine police officers and first responders resolved this in such a way that nobody died. I was thinking “wow. How lucky am I to live in Edmonton, where our police officers know how to quickly rise to action and protect us.” I drafted my fantasy hockey team, and went to bed feeling grateful that the victims were expected to recover, that Constable Mike Chernyk was safely back home with his family and my city chose to rally for peace. Sure, a few bad apples on social media went on some racist tirades, but for the most part, I feel like we were grateful that everyone was going to be okay.

Photo credit: Andrea Ross (CBC)

Then I woke up to read about another terrorist attack in Las Vegas, one that killed 59 people and wounded over 500 others. My heart breaks for all of these families. They went out for a night of fun, and now their families are grieving. Going out to a concert should be fun, not a night of fear and terror. For those of you who read regularly, you know my stance on gun control. I once wrote an entire article about why you can shove your thoughts and prayers up your ass. I won’t beat you over the head with my stance. Instead, I’ll share with you a little chat I had with an old high school friend.

Even though there were two terrorist attacks less than 24 hours apart, no one died in Edmonton. 59 died in Vegas. The idea of 59 families grieving and so many injured souls is gut wrenching. I have friends that are huge fans of Jason Aldean. The idea that they could be injured or killed because they wanted to enjoy a concert is a terror is one that my mind cannot comprehend, but it’s a reality. My friend & I talked about that every time this happens, every American citizen loses a little piece of who they used to be, whether they buried a loved one or not. They don’t get the warm feeling of knowing they are safe; because they aren’t; not at any point in time. You can be shot at a Jason Aldean concert. You can be shot watching a movie. You can be shot in your first grade classroom. You could be walking down the street minding your business and get shot. I recently took my eight year old to a hockey game. Our biggest concerns were that the Canucks might score and that she shouldn’t eat the entire bag of cotton candy before the end of the first period. But my cousin, who lives in Michigan, doesn’t have the same luxury. She has to worry whether or not Detroit will win, whether her young son will eat too much cotton candy, and where the emergency exits are, and her exit strategy in case of a mass shooting. Wikihow has a detailed guide with instructions on how to survive a mass shooting. That’s the new normal, and that’s terrifying.

I am grossly under qualified to discuss tragedies. But I guess if there was anything I could offer, as an Edmontonian who’s city was impacted by terrorism the night before tragedy struck Vegas, is that I’m sorry that you don’t get to feel safe. I’m sorry that you don’t get to go to work feeling safe because police caught the bad guy because, in a few months, there will be another bad guy with a gun. You’ll need support then too & I promise to offer support then. I’m sorry that you’ll never feel safe at a concert or a movie or a football game. I’m sorry that you’ll always be wondering in the back of your mind if today is your turn to be shot by the bad guy. I hope someday laws change and you won’t have to feel that way, but until then, this unimportant Canadian blogger sends love, donations, and will use my space to encourage those in the area to donate blood and help out in any way that they can. I’ve posted some numbers below. If you live in the area, please call.

During dark times, we should focus on the good in the world. Do a good deed. Be kind to each other. But also, never forget to thank the brave EMS teams and medical personnel, who tirelessly work to save us when we are impacted by the worst of us. Change doesn’t come through violence or finger pointing; it comes through patience, understanding, and love.