Adventure is calling – his name is Alex

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 My husband and I often take separate cars when we make plans during the week since we meet up right after work. On our way home from whenever we are, Alex calls me as soon as we get in the car. We talk as I follow him home or he follows me. With our work schedules being rather different, it seems that these conversations (brought to you in part by Bluetooth), are the longest and most intense ones that we have. The only thing better would be being in the car with him.

 

On our way home from date-night last week the traffic was haunting; try turning onto highway 50 during rush hour and you’ll know what I’m talking about. I noticed a few cars turning down a street that I’d never traveled down before. I assumed that they were trying to avoid the traffic so I asked Alex if we should follow them. To that he said “Up to you babe.”

“Fuck it. Let’s try.” I said with a confidence that rarely makes an appearance, especially when it is really needed. On we drove. Paved roads turned into dirt ones, assumed roads lead to un-assumed ones. We came across buildings we didn’t know existed, new suburbs and abandoned farms, and a  deranged patch of land with sheds (or miniature homes) littered about. The entire way I kept asking Alex if we should keep going and to that he said “Fuck it babe, you only live once!”

After a series of steep hills and roads that wound so tightly I could barely stay on them, we ended up at a dead-end, nowhere near our home. I stopped the car and looked over at Alex sitting in his. The smile on his face was from ear to ear as he began to laugh. I immediately began to giggle.

Maybe it was the DELICIOUS white-wine sangria I had with dinner or the excitement in finding secret hidden places among the trees, but I felt sheer and utter joy. Nothing clouded my mind, I felt in control and calm and lost and safe. Life should be filled with these little adventures, where you enter into the unknown and find little pieces of yourself that you may have lost along the way.

You only live once.

 

Anxiety Update – Back with a Vengeance

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I don’t want to write about this but I should because sometimes a step back means taking a leap forward. I hoped that my previous post about anxiety would be my last. I truly believed that I had gained control over it, that I would never have to deal with the severe heart palpitations, nausea, aches and pains, headaches, and panic attacks again. I didn’t have the slightest inkling that it would come back, that I would need to take my medication again. I believed with every ounce of my being that I wouldn’t sit at my desk and have to feel like I was drowning, gasping for air.

Oh, how wrong I was.

A few weeks ago my mom noticed a change in my attitude and I noticed the small signs of my anxiety coming back. It happened slowly, a few sleepless night, the dread of looming Mondays, and a shorter temper. Then suddenly I was over the edge. I became filled with fear and worries. My anxiety wrapping its arms around me like an old friend. I tried my breathing exercises, repeating my mantras, and working out more but to no avail. After yet another panic attack and a conversation with my husband and mom, I decided it would be best if I went back on my anxiety medication.

What I am now trying to figure out is what my trigger is. Why did it come back?  How come I could keep it at bay for months and then it returns with a vengeance?

 

Tell your ‘Boring’ Stories

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In spite of writer’s block and simply not making time to write as often as I should, I still call myself a writer. I believe in stories; that a life is made up of so many chapters, narratives, and essays that it’s difficult to keep track of which part of the book you’re living in.

Last week while speaking with Amanda DiPasquale and Sociphoria we discussed the real truth (not alternative fact) that blogs are dying. When it comes to social media, blogs are secondary to Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (Facebook is dead to me).  No one wants to read thousand word essays or posts. People want photos, videos, and 200 words or less. I know it’s true but I wish it wasn’t so for  few reasons.

  1. People don’t seek out what I write about
  2. People don’t write what I like to read

Maybe I write too personally. Maybe more things should kept private. Even my fiction is utterly revealing. I understand the desire for privacy. There is so much pressure to share everything that there comes a point where you don’t even feel like you own your life. There also comes a point where you realize that no one cares.

Well, I care.

I care about your stories as much as your outfit; okay I care way more about your stories than what you’re wearing. I care about whatever you have to say in a thousand words or less because while I’m reading them I feel less alone. For those 10 or 15 minutes I have someone to relate to. I am understood. I feel connected to the universe even though I’m staring at a screen. Stories connect us, that’s why I care.

I care because we’re all just stories; good, bad, and boring.

 

Anxiety Update

What most people don’t tell you about anxiety is that even when you’re on medication it never fully disappears. It still lives within you, taking up space in your heart and your mind. It moves in and hibernates until something doesn’t go as planned, work is busy, or you get into a fight with your significant other. The medication tames it, it helps you sleep, it keeps your bowels regular (okay that’s just a weird side-effect that I didn’t mind), it calms you. It helped me get through a really draining year, it saved me.

As medication affects everyone differently, I must admit that there were a few things I did not like about it. The constant fatigue was one, the other was the numbing of my emotions.  I would feel happy but not quite so, I’d feel sad but the tears wouldn’t flow, I’d feel anxious but it didn’t overwhelm me, and a very large piece of me missed my overly emotional emotions. Words became stuck somewhere between my head and my heart and I had difficult time both writing and speaking my mind. If I couldn’t write (or write well) than was I really me?

There came a point just after our wedding when I misplaced my medication. Although I found it a few days later I decided not to take it anymore. I took the alarm off my phone and placed the pills in my cupboard. I decided that since I no longer had wedding planning harboring over me and I was finally (FINALLY) getting good at my day job, I would try to continue my life medication-free.

I’m not sure how long this will last but I am taking every moment and every stress-filled week one step at a time. I am taking all of the tools my friends, cousins, colleagues, and parents taught me and putting them to use.

It’s not so much about numbing my feelings, it’s about controlling my anxiety.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie ten Boom 

 

The Bride’s Diary – In Retrospect

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Although my day as a bride has come and gone, I want to share one more instalment of The Bride’s Diary. One more blog post to document the three regrets I have from the BIG DAY.

I wish I hadn’t asked the seamstress to make my dress as tight as humanly possible. As mentioned in my previous post, it fit perfectly in the morning and then by dinner time it was so tight I could barely breathe! There were moments where I felt light-headed and dizzy because of it.

I wish we had planned out our photos more; shots and timing specifically. I had this notion in my head that I only wanted candid photos; very few posed shots, no cheesy old-fashion photos. I don’t regret my insistence on candid photos, they came out beautifully and as my husband tends to pull a Chandler every time I say SMILE, the candid photos were the best option.

HOWEVER, it wasn’t until a week later that we realized we don’t have any photos with our guests, our immediate families (parents and siblings), or grandparents. Yes, there are candid photos of us around those people but no “proper” photos that will make our grandparents happy. To be honest we barely have photos of the two of us! I cut the photos short because I wanted to spend time with the guests.

One more tiny regret; we had originally chosen Brad Paisley’s Little Moments as our first dance but agreed to change it to some song by U2. It was lovely but it just didn’t feel like it was our song. Urghh.

I’m sure that every bride has a few regrets so I won’t dwell on them. The important part is that the wedding was as amazing as I hoped it would be, even if it wasn’t perfect.

 

The Bride’s Diary – WE DID IT

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We did it! We travelled a 1.5 year-long road jumping over arguments, dodging (and even embracing) tears, and pausing at crossroads until we reached destination “I DO”.

November 11, 2016 was exactly how I hoped it would be; calm, relaxing, and fun. Since we had the ceremony and reception in the same location (The Hazleton Manor) the day was super easy. Hair at 9 AM (many thanks to Chroma Hair Design), make up at 11 AM, a few mimosa to calm the nerves, and it was time for the ceremony.

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Photo by: Victoria Stacey // Flowers and Decor: Paradise Floral Studio

The rest of the day was like a dream. I immediately began to tear up as I walked down the aisle with my parents to the music stylings of Out of the Blue. Seeing the smile on Alex’s face and watching his legs shake nervously filled me with excitement and joy. The ceremony itself was quick, fun, and completely US – it did help that we got to choose all of the readings and write out own vows. The hall was decorated to perfection (thanks to my mom and mostly Paradise Floral Studio), the music was on point, the food was utterly delicious, and the drinks overflowing.  Everyone embraced us with a warm hug and a smile. The entire hall was filled with love, hope, and happiness – I could feel it oozing from our guests.

Yes, there were things that didn’t go exactly as planned; I was grooving on the dance floor when the back of my dress popped open. It may have fit like I glove in the morning but after dancing, sweating, and eating, I could barely breathe!!!! All in all, the wedding was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. Thanks to our family and close friends, we made memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you to everyone who attended the wedding and everyone on social media who wished us well.

 

The Bride’s Diary – ONE WEEK TO GO

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It’s safe to say that I’ve been rather distracted lately. Apart from all of the last-minute wedding details (which my mom has graciously taken charge of) there’s also this heavy cloud of confusion weighing on my heart.

Let me explain…

The confusion has nothing to do with the wedding. That is the only thing that I am certain of at the moment. What I’m unsure of is where I’m headed. I’ve had several conversations with people in the last few weeks about my writing, life, and my future. I scroll through LinkedIn and Indeed like my life literally depends on it. I click-through vacation packages on Expedia like I can actually afford to go on every trip I have in mind. I frantically search for apartments for rent in Toronto since the condo Alex and I purchased won’t be ready until 2018. The truth is that I’m feeling rather lost, UNaccomplished, and as if I haven’t taken enough risks. No amount of coffee or wedding plans have been able to distract me from this feeling.

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My current boss said something that I just can’t shake – she said that she hopes that I’m living- really living. That I take chances and have no regrets. She wants me to keep writing and following my dreams. My old boss used to say that to me all the time and I can’t help but wonder why people keep telling me this. Can they tell that I’ve been distracted? That I’ve thrown my passion project to the side without any regard for my dreams? Maybe.

Good news is that the entire universe seems to be pushing me toward my dreams. I received an email from a literary agency in Toronto asking if I had anything I want to share with them. Thankfully, I do and I am going to use every waking hour I have (after the wedding) to put together the book I’ve been writing on and off for what seems like years. Perhaps the more I work on it the less I’ll feel like I’m failing…

So with one week to go until the wedding, THIS is what I’m preoccupied with!  OY VEY!

 

The Bride’s Diary – 28 Days to Go!

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As I sat down at La Bamboche with my fluffy cappuccino I realized that I was about an hour early for my final wedding dress fitting.

MY FINAL WEDDING DRESS FITTING.

Which meant that I would get to take my dress home because it’s so close to the wedding that there’s no point in keeping at the store. Because I’m getting married in less than a month. In less than a month I get to marry my best friend, but not only that, I get to see what all this planning actually accomplished.

It feels completely surreal. Where did this year go?! Didn’t we just get engaged? Every time I try to picture what the day will look like I either get a bout of anxiety or I cry with happiness. I’m nervous about the big day and hope everything goes as planned but I’m also excited. Excited to finally say the vows I’ve written a million times, excited to walk down the aisle with my mom and dad, excited to watch my friends perform a song or two, excited to dance the night away with my family and closest friends. I’m also excited for the relief I’ll feel once the day is over. I’m looking forward to not worry about seating charts or floral arrangements or offending anyone. I’m excited for what happens after I DO.

Wait, what happens after I DO?! I guess we’ll find out ❤️.

**A special thank you to all of the wonderful women at Ritché Bridal for your patience, support, and magical alterations. I felt like an old friend every time I went for a fitting and I am sad for all of the future brides out there that won’t get to have the Ritché Bridal experience. Congratulations on your retirement and thank you for the dress of my dreams.**

The Bride’s Diary – The Bridal Shower

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Words I never thought I would put in a sentence (and actually mean them):

I loved everything about my bridal shower.

Let’s be clear, this is not because I didn’t think we could pull it off, but because I have never been a huge fan of bridal showers. Although I’ve had fun at all of the showers I’ve attended in recent years, I never quite understood the point of them. In fact I’m sure I mentioned once or twice that I didn’t want to have one. They’re A LOT of work, and super time-consuming; especially when your mother and florist are keen on the littlest of details. From making Mad-Hatter hats to cutting the corners of every piece of paper, to flowers and cookies, no detail was left out.

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The theme I chose for my shower was Alice in Wonderland – it’s a book, one of my favourite Disney movies, and after looking on Pinterest I realized that there was so much that could be done with the theme. Over the last year my mom and aunt (who is also my florist) scoured all kinds of stores for the perfect props. With boxes and boxes stacked in the basement I nearly forgot how much was collected until we had to lug it all out again.
After months of planning, collecting, and prepping for the shower I asked my bridal party, mother, and aunt if they could decorate the restaurant without me so that I could see everything put together for the first time. And so they did…

Needless to say I was floored and completely overwhelmed by how nicely everything came together. They created my own version of Wonderland where everything is beautiful and just a little bit weird. As the guests made their way into the restaurant, they were handed their very own hat and asked to play some table games. All of the guests obliged and seemingly enjoyed all of the décor, food, raffles, and games throughout the afternoon. I made my way from table to table to welcome everyone and have a chat or two. I have to admit that I cried. More than once.


When the dessert table opened and everyone was full, I got up to say my thank-yous. Halfway through my written speech, I broke down. I felt such an incredible amount of love and joy in the room that I couldn’t contain myself. All of my family and friends showed up to celebrate Alex and I and the love we have for one another – it left me with a feeling a can’t quite describe. It’s somewhere between undeserving and ridiculously thankful, mixed in with utterly happy and exceedingly overwhelmed.

Thank you again to everyone who attended, to everyone who was there in spirit, and to everyone who helped out. It was a blissful day in Wonderland and I couldn’t be happier.

 

she rhymes

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She adored the busyness of the city streets even more than the quiet found when nodding off to sleep. She needn’t go away to long for home – she can stay quite put and still feel alone. On and on the days go by; the leaves will change and flowers die. In her heart she feels  the same; her love and happiness are the only game.

There was a time she felt confused, questioned herself, convinced she’d lose. Suddenly, suddenly she’s standing tall, back straight up against a wall. She knows herself and walks with pride through the fear she tries to hide. Her confidence is blooming wide, you can see it in her face that she has nothing to hide.

She says her piece and doesn’t stutter even though her heart may flutter. Perspectives shifted with loads at stake – her mind has strengthened. Her ground won’t quake. She feels like a woman, no longer girl, she feels fucking ready to rule her world. She forgives herself for past mistakes and forgets regrets that have laid their claim. She cares not for foes, drama, or fame: words are her passion, Vanessa is her name.